BEAUFORT WEST- The main drinking water supply to 37000 people, the Gamka Dam, is running close to empty, but there may be hope at the end of the borehole for Beaufort West residents.
Interventions by hydrologist, geologist and palaeontologist Dr Gideon Groenewald, who has 40 years in experience in the search for water, may prove to be the saving grace for the small town.
Drilling efforts began on November 1 and four viable boreholes out of 11 have been found offering 350000 litres of water daily.
According to Imtiaz Sooliman, chairman and founder of Gift of the Givers, “the aim is to continue drilling until the required minimum amount of 1million litres of drinkable water per day is achieved to balance the shortfall”.
“We may go beyond that but ensure that there is a balance between providing water and ensuring that the aquifers are not depleted in the process.”
Sooliman also told Weekend Argus they were confident that “with Dr Groenewald’s expertise we will achieve our objective of 1million plus litres of water per day within the next two weeks, which in effect, will save Beaufort West”.
According to reports earlier this week, the chief executive of Agri-Western Cape, Carl Opperman, said the drought not only caused suffering and hurt but also killed.
Opperman also said: “An economic disaster is unfolding in the Western Cape”.
“The Central Karoo and the West Coast districts have been declared disaster areas.
“In fact, it is the first time that the entire Western Cape has been declared a disaster zone.
“Besides the drought, many areas are experiencing extreme water scarcity,” he said, adding that agriculture plays a central role in maintaining stability.
Beaufort West mayor Japie van der Linde told Weekend Argus the area was not likely to see dry taps any time soon but there was a need for “five more boreholes which will help us in the future so we don’t run out of water”.
The town is surviving on 32 boreholes but Van der Linde said the area “received good rainfall on Tuesday and Wednesday but I cannot be too sure how much water is in the dams, but we are currently on level 4b water restrictions and we urge consumers to use the water sparingly”, he said.
Despite the water crisis, Van Der Linde said the area would be able to accommodate tourists in the festive season and urged visitors to make a stop in the small town.
“They must remember to use the water sparingly,” he added.
Meanwhile, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has acknowledged the sterling efforts made by Capetonians to save water, but said consumers were saving water so well that they were now paying less, affecting the city’s budget.
In a press briefing earlier this week, De Lille said: “There are people who have been telling us that they don’t mind paying an extra levy on their rates.
“As you can see, the city needs the money to be building new water schemes and regular maintenance needs to be done on the water infrastructure.”