Windhoek water crisis deepens

Residents not saving enough

10 May 2019 | Local News

The City of Windhoek is preparing to announce more stringent water restrictions, while residents have failed to reach the 10% water savings target set in August last year.

On Tuesday, City of Windhoek spokesperson Lydia Amutenya said Windhoekers consumed 6% more water than allowable over the past week.

“It is a fact that there has been no adequate inflow into the dams serving the central area of Namibia in which Windhoek is located and, as a result, our water situation is worsening,” Amutenya said.

She said the City would soon announce new water saving targets based on a review of the supply situation done at the end of April.

NamWater and the City of Windhoek have not yet disclosed the outcome of the annual review.

Amutenya said an overview of the water-supply situation would be released soon, alongside the new targets and restrictions.

In the previous weekly water bulletin released by the City, consumption was only 1% over the target, but Amutenya nevertheless emphasised the need to stick to the targets.

“We should continue with our water saving efforts. The water crisis is real. Save water, every drop counts!” she said.

Between January and April, Windhoek residents over-consumed water by 13% on average.

Hard times

In August last year, when the City announced the 10% water saving target, experts said this saving was critical because abstraction from the Windhoek aquifer, the city's emergency reserve, is unsustainable.

As of 1 August, at least 20 000 cubic metres of water were pumped from the boreholes to supply several Windhoek suburbs.

This supply strategy was designed to address the lack of inflow to the three main supply dams of NamWater, which halved its supply to the City from around 60 000 cubic metres daily to 30 000.

In addition, Windhoek receives 17 000 cubic metres a day from the Windhoek reclamation plant, the maximum output that can be provided. Yet, in order to ensure the new daily usage target of 67 000 cubic metres a day can be achieved, residents have a vital role to play by ensuring 10% water savings.

Koos Theron of the City of Windhoek's infrastructure, water, and technical services division explained at the time that the cooperation of residents was paramount.

He said the current water supply operation was highly risky as it relied on an emergency resource, namely the aquifer.

He explained that the current abstraction of around 20 000 cubic metres a day from the aquifer was not sustainable in the long run.

The average natural recharge of the underground water source amounts to 1.7 million cubic metres per year. At the current rate, around 7.5 million cubic metres per year is being extracted, which is almost 4.5 times the recharge rate.

JANA-MARI SMITH