13/11/2017 06:55 SAST | Updated 13/11/2017 06:55 SAST

Water Crisis Hits Small Town SA

The taps have run dry in many small towns in South Africa as a crippling drought consumes struggling municipalities.

Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town.

As a serious drought grips the country, taps in South Africa's small towns have run dry, and corruption and theft are exacerbating the problem. The Times reported on Monday that collapsing infrastructure is a contributor to the crisis, with South Africa needing an extra R30-billion to bridge the water-infrastructure gap.

South Africa reportedly has a water deficit of 38 billion cubic metres per year, and its underground water reservoirs are in danger of evaporating.

In Beaufort West in the Western Cape, 20% of the municipal water is recycled sewage while the local dam is empty, The Times reported. Outside taps are frequently stolen and residents are only able to bath once a week.

In Dopeni in Limpopo, residents reportedly have to buy water from those who have boreholes.

In Mpumalanga, a resident told The Times that there had been waters shortages for four years. A resident in Randfontein on Johannesburg's West Rand told The Times: "Every week you will see there is no water."

The Water Research Council's Jo Burgess told The Times: "We are in trouble, big trouble... We are just going to have to adapt. It's very frightening."

Last week, The Citizen reported that the Ugu District Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, which includes Port Edward and Port Shepstone, was struggling to ensure normal water supply. The municipality is reportedly struggling to fix ageing water infrastructure, and the problem has been made worse by a water services strike by municipal employees.

Residents complained that they could not shower or flush their toilets, but that they were told not to tell people from Johannesburg about the crisis as this would affect tourism over the festive season.

The City of Cape Town is facing a major water shortage crisis, with fears that there could be no water in the City by March next year.

At the end of October, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba approved a request by the City of Cape Town to forego some regulatory requirements in making budgetary changes to speed up measures to mitigate the drought, according to Eyewitness News.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has promised that the City will not run dry.