Every drop counts

The capital city is facing another water crisis and residents have been urged to comply with emergency measures.

14 May 2019 | Disasters

As Windhoek faces a looming water supply crisis amidst the ravaging drought, the City has upgraded to a category D severe scarcity supply scenario and will impose mandatory 15% water savings, plus a host of new water use restrictions as of 1 July.

With dam levels dropping sharply, the City is increasingly leaning on its own two water resources, the aquifer and reclamation plant, which going forward, will supply 65% of Windhoek's targeted 465 000 cubic metres weekly consumption target.

In previous years, and under normal circumstances, NamWater provided as much as 75% of the city's water supply demands, while boreholes tapping into the aquifer produced around 5% for the demand.

Following the recently concluded assessment of the water supply situation in the central area, NamWater lowered its weekly supply capacity to 35% of total demand, less than the 39% the City's aquifer will provide over a seven-day cycle.

NamWater's latest dam bulletin, issued yesterday, showed the total capacity of the three central dams, Swakoppoort, Von Bach and Omatako, has dwindled to 19% capacity, compared to 35.1% this time last season.

In August last year, while the City was still in a category C water supply scenario, NamWater supplied around 30 000 cubic metres each day, which has now decreased to 23 400 cubic metres daily, totalling 163 712 cubic metres each week.

Meanwhile, the aquifer which under last year's category C scenario was supplying around 20 000 cubic metres a day to the city's taps, is set to provide as much as 25 900 cubic metres daily, which could increase if residents don't stick to the 15% savings.

The municipality supplements this supply with around 17 000 cubic metres a day, or 26% of the weekly targeted consumption, from the reclamation plant.

Residents' mandatory 15% savings are crucial to the goal of achieving the weekly consumption target of 465 000 cubic metres, with current demand totalling around 539 350 cubic metres each week.

CEO Robert Kahimise yesterday stressed that any additional consumption will put pressure on the aquifer, an already scarce and valuable resource. Any consumption falling below the weekly target of 465 000 cubic metres will help preserve the resource.

Namibian Sun previously reported that the aquifer, under normal conditions, is viewed as an emergency resource and experts warned that continued use of the resource is not sustainable based on the average natural recharge rates, which are significantly below the current abstraction rates.

Kahimise urged residents to play their part in order to avoid the severe water supply troubles faced by Cape Town recently, saying he is positive the City will receive cooperation.

“The residents of Windhoek have been in this situation before. I know it's doable. I think we can just rearrange our behaviour and I believe we can do it collectively,” he said.

He added that the City of Windhoek will lead by example, but agreed that a number of challenges need to be addressed, including aging and badly maintained water supply infrastructure, lags in responding to leak notifications and other issues.

Moreover he said the City is looking at viable options to strengthen water supply in order to decrease the city's reliance on NamWater and ensure a sustainable water supply situation over the long run.

However, he noted that the infrastructure needed to increase water treatment capabilities would cost the City billions.

New Rules

Under the new water supply restrictions, the City will no longer provide rebates on water losses from leaks.

Households will pay penalty tariffs under the block tariff system, implemented in times of water scarcity, if they consume more than 25 000 litres per month. The tariffs will rise again if a household uses more than 30 000 litres per month.

Currently consumers pay an increased rate of N$61 per 1 000 litres used when they exceed the 25 000-litre threshold, and are charged N$141 per 1 000 litres used if they use more than N$30 000 litres per month per household.

Under category D cars are not allowed to be washed at home and only certified commercial carwashes that use less than 30 litres per vehicle may be used.

Lawns may only be watered using semi-purified water and no landscaping may take place.

No sprinklers may be used and watering, when allowed, may only take place twice a week and only at certain times.

Public pools will have reduced opening periods and residential pools must be covered and may not be refilled from a public water supply source.

Hospitality institutions must implement water savings programmes and impose laundry restrictions.

Construction companies must implement best management practices and utilise semi-purified water for earthworks.


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