Update on Provincial Water Challenges

By Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell and Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities:

The Western Cape Government is closely monitoring the impact of unusually dry seasonal weather in some regions across the province.

Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning says of particular concern at the moment is looming water shortages in the Cederberg and Matzikama Local Municipalities as a result of the low level of the Clanwilliam Dam.

Minister Bredell says that whilst the Clanwilliam Dam level is currently at 88%, this is regarded as critically low for this period of the year.

“Awareness programs and water restrictions in the three areas are being undertaken by the various municipalities already.”

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said he is concerned about the impact of water shortages on agriculture, a leading export sector, and the economy: “No area has been declared a disaster area yet, and we are highly concerned, and are monitoring the situation closely”.

“Dam levels across the province are down compared to last year.  This has consequences for certain regions. The Karoo is very dry and the West Coast is also being impacted by lower rainfall. There is, however, still a chance of rain, which could change the situation. We will be routinely assessing the situation over the next few weeks.”

Minister Winde says funding relief for any national disasters sits with the National Government and is released to provincial governments only after the declaration of a disaster.

In the event of a disaster being declared, a request for funding would have to be submitted to the National Treasury via the National Disaster Management Centre.

According to legislation, farmers cannot be compensated for loss of income due to a national disaster. Assistance can only be used against damaged infrastructure.

“The National Department of Labour may also be approached to assist with providing financial assistance to farmers to retain employed farm workers. In certain instances, the department could also support farmers by facilitating talks with commercial banks or the Land Bank on rescheduling payments of current production,” Minister Winde says.

Minister Bredell says the Western Cape is a dry province and prone to water challenges.

“If the province doesn’t get the rainfall it requires it is always a major concern and raises the risk profile for the agriculture sector in particular.”

Bredell has called on consumers of water to use the resource sparingly.

“The message is always – don’t waste water. Even when there is no defined shortage in a particular area, use water wisely.”