- Gaborone dam levels critically low
- Water rationing looming and
- Tariff hike expected next month
Gaborone and its surrounding areas may run out of water in less than ten months.
This was the chilling implication this week as Water Utilities Corporation(WUC) took journalists and community leaders on a tour of the drying up dams .
The situation is a scary reminder of the near-fatal October 2005 situation that saw dam levels dropping to critical levels before picking sharply to over 80% after the heavy January 2006 rains, WUC Water Resources Manager, Selemogwe has said.
“Gaborone dam is at 23% while Bokaa dam is at 24%. The water supply in the two dams can only last up to ten and five months respectively. But we can only reach that far if the public adheres to water saving conditions. We now have to pause as individuals and as a collective and find ways to use the little water that we have wisely. Otherwise the dams will dry up before the ten months,” he said.
So critical is the situation that the corporation is considering water rationing, an exercise similar to the unpopular power load-shedding.
Selemogwe explained that Gaborone dam was also relying on support supply from Molatedi dam in South Africa which supplies about 7.3 million cubic metres of water. We have an arrangement with the South Africans of additional supply from Molatedi, but the agreement is such that they can only supply us if Molatedi dam is above 26%. The problem now is that Molatedi is 27% empty and there is only one percent left before they cut us off,” he said.
WUC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Godfrey Mudanga said the corporation was awaiting an approval by cabinet next month of a review of water tariffs. The WUC boss said the level trends at Gaborone dam indicate that even if the area could experience rainfall within the ten months there was no guarantee that the water level would rise significantly. “The trend shows that since 2002 the water levels have been experiencing a sharp drop. It was only in 2006 that the level rose but there was never a constant rise. So we can’t really say any rains will make much difference,” he said.
Mudanga said they were pinning their hopes on the northern dams whose water levels are satisfactory. Ntimbale dam is the best performing at 91% followed by Shashe at 86% , Letsibogo at 78% and Dikgatlhong at 43%.
The trouble now, according to Mudanga, is the North-South Water carrier that keeps breaking down. “Right now the pump has been closed for three weeks to allow for the repairs ,” he said.
Mudanga further revealed that the corporation was in the process of tapping water from the contaminated dolomites well fields in Ramotswa and clean it for consumption. “The dolomite well fields are basically an underground dam. So what happened was that the village was built on top of the well fields and the pit-latrines contaminated the water. We’re now at Phase 1 of the project to clean the water whose nitrate concentration is low. Some of the water which is of marginal quality will be blended with water from Gaborone for safe consumption,” he said.
He said WUC was still looking for funding for the second phase of the project where a reverse osmosis plant will be constructed for the superior processing of the water.
Meanwhile, as the capital city teeters on the brink of a dry spell the WUC authorities have stressed the need to comply with water saving requirements.