Every drop still counts

20 January 2020 | Disasters

Windhoekers have failed to achieve the overall water savings target implemented in May last year and the municipality remains gravely concerned about the city's water supply situation for 2020.

Based on weekly water usage measurements taken since May 2019, when the City of Windhoek implemented the severe water scarcity regulations and mandatory 15% water savings target, actual water usage exceeded the weekly target of 465 000 cubic metres most weeks.

Overconsumption of water was at its highest in October and November when the target was surpassed by 12% in the week starting 14 October, and by 10% over two weeks in November.

The weekly targets were reached only in the colder month of July, three weeks in August, one week in September and one in October, and then again most of December and all of January, when many had fled the capital during their holidays.

At the end of December, 23% water savings were achieved and 14% in the first week of January. Although water savings were achieved in the week ending 13 January, the savings had dropped to 3% of the overall target.

Overall, since May 6 last year, a total of 17.5 million cubic metres was consumed in Windhoek, instead of the 17.2 million cubic metres the city planned for if the 15% goal had been reached.

In total Windhoek residents and businesses consumed 260 263 cubic metres over target between May 2019 and January 2020.

“Since May 2019 until now, the overall savings was 13.5%, which is commendable. Unfortunately this is still 1.5% over the target,” Windhoek municipality spokesperson Harold Akwenye said last week.

“The City of Windhoek is concerned as the target has not been achieved. There are as yet no definitive indications that we will have sufficient surface water for 2020,” he warned.

Akwenye said the municipality remains deeply worried about the lack of surface water inflow to the dams, despite some rains, and the impact of continued extraction of water from the aquifer to offset over-consumption.

In May last year, the city announced that the majority of water supply would be sourced from the aquifer, which would supply 39% of the city's water needs, compared to 35% to be supplied from NamWater, and 26% from the reclamation plant. The 15% savings target formed a crucial part of the water management strategy, as any water consumed more than the target consumption of 465 000 cubic metres per week has to be offset by the Windhoek boreholes.

All savings would ease pressure on the aquifer city authorities stressed.

In September last year, the city announced that the Windhoek aquifer water levels had been reduced to 25%. Akwenye explained that as per the water management plan the Windhoek aquifer has to be recharged by artificial means when the dams are filled, which has not taken place since 2011.

Despite sporadic rains recorded last month in the central areas, inflow has been minimal.

He said the little inflow to the Omatako Dam equates to “about four or five months of water supply to Windhoek, if all the water could be moved from the Omatako Dam to the Von Bach Dam.”

In case the dams do receive good inflow, recharging the aquifer will be a priority.

For the foreseeable future, the Category D water scarcity regulations remain in place, and Akwenye urged residents to practice wise-water usage to ensure that the abstraction from the aquifer remains minimal.

He said Windhoekers are urged to adopt a “smart lifestyle” by implementing daily water management practices at home, including regular water meter readings and ensuring that consumption remains below the target of 90 litres of water per housemate per day.

He again urged residents to immediately isolate water leaks and to arrange repairs quickly and to install water efficient flow reducers for taps and showers. Where possible, he said residents should consider installing water efficient toilets which can reduce consumption by 50%.


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