Windhoek water use skyrockets

18 October 2019 | Crime

Windhoek's water consumption rose sharply over the past week and exceeded the water savings target by 12%.

The municipality attributed the increase to major pipe bursts and residents not sticking to water restrictions as temperatures rise. “Although not easy to quantify, significant losses were experienced with large-diameter pipe breaks in the city during the past week,” spokesperson Botha Ellis said on Wednesday. Windhoek's weekly consumption target is 465 000 cubic metres. Ellis stressed that the available water in the dams serving Windhoek is limited and continues to dwindle.

“Once the surface water is depleted, the aquifer and reclaimed water will not be sufficient to meet our demands in Windhoek. Therefore we should do our best to ensure that we use the remaining water sparingly,” Ellis warned. He urged all residents to help the city manage the precious water resource. Ellis further said that the water savings the municipality had hoped to accrue during the winter months were not achieved. Some of the things people can do are to refrain from planting new plants and to water existing trees and shrubs only once a month. “No water features can be operated and minimise washing of cars. Only support carwash operators that have water-recycling facilities reflecting water-efficient processes,” Ellis said.

The municipality urges residents to commit to smart lifestyles for water management and to invest in water efficiency. “We are all able to reduce our water consumption sustainably up to 50% with the use of water-efficient equipment, and this leads to an improved standard of life.”

Among the tips for more water-wise lifestyles, the municipality recommends using the sewer system for wastewater only. “Wipe fats and oil with a paper towel and dispose it in the solid waste bin. Food remains belong in the waste bin. “Windhoek's sewer system is delicate, especially during water saving periods. We need the sewer water to produce reclaimed domestic water and semi-purified water for our parks and sport fields. Semi-purified water is also utilised by the building industry and other industrial operations.

In May, the City tightened water restrictions, implementing the severe water scarcity Category D, thereby increasing the mandatory water savings from 10% to 15%. The City stated that NamWater would supply around 35% of the demand target of 465 000 cubic metres, the reclamation plant would supply 26% and the remaining supply requirements would be met by the City's boreholes from the aquifer (39%). On Monday, the weekly dam bulletin announced that the water level of the Swakoppoort, Von Bach and Omatako dams now stands at 14.4% of total capacity, compared to 26.6% last year.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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