By Dirk Nel In Polokwane
With the drought in several districts of Limpopo starting to assume crisis proportions, the provincial government is considering several emergency water supply schemes. The northern, central, and southeastern parts of the province have been worst hit by drought, with many districts having recorded only 50 percent of their normal summer rainfall figures.
With the level of the Ebenezer Dam, Polokwane's major supply source, now standing at only 22 percent of its capacity, the municipality recently concluded an agreement with the Lepelle Northern Water Board to transfer supplies directly to the city from the Olifants River, about 100 km away.
Lepelle Chief Executive Officer Timothy Lehong has confirmed that the emergency supply will be conveyed via the Olifants/Sand transfer scheme, constructed in 1995 as a precaution in case of emergencies. He said that limited short-term supplies would still be available from Ebenezer, as restrictions had been placed on agricultural use of this water, to meet urgent domestic needs in the region.
"There will be no appreciable increase in costs for the Polokwane Municipality, therefore no extra charges need to be passed on to consumers in the city," Mr Lehong explained. In another significant development, the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality is going ahead with the construction of a R17 million scheme, including a purification plant, to supply water to needy communities within its boundaries.
Residents of two of the townships to benefit from the Sekhukhune project, Praktiseer and Bordershoek, will be receiving direct domestic water services, with taps in their homes, for the first time in their history. Work on the new scheme, which will receive its supplies from tributaries of the Olifants River, has provided 300 fulltime jobs, and the purification plant is already nearing completion.