Windhoek running dry
The central areas of Namibia especially Windhoek could not have access to running water by August 2016 said NamWater’s Manager: Hydrology, Andre Mostert earlier this week when he told a press conference the water situation has deteriorated much faster than anticipated.
“We are using more water from our dams than anticipated and will run out of water sooner. We exceeded our target supply as water demand in the central areas was higher from months April to July 2015,” said Mostert.
Even with the 15% water saving the municipality introduced, Windhoek is facing a water crisis as water levels in key dams, Omatako, Swakoppoort and Von Bach are reaching critically low levels. The Omatako dam was described as effectively dry. The three dams have a combined usable water supply of 29.9 million cubic metres while Windhoek’s current demand is 33 million cubic metres of water per year.
The Von Bach Dam currently holds 16 million cubic metres of water, of which only 14.15 million cubic metres can be used before it reaches its ‘dead storage level’ while the Swakoppoort Dam has 17 million cubic metres of water, of which 15.7 million cubic metres are usable. Mostert said even if the dams are to fill up now, they still would not have enough water to meet NamWater’s supply demand as there are shortfalls even with the City of Windhoek’s boreholes.
“The City of Windhoek’s boreholes are not up to par. Usually they would produce up to 8.3 million cubic meters of water but they now only producing 3.3 million cubic meters which are not sufficient. The Windhoek boreholes are not up to the levels they are expected to be and NamWater’s plan to extract an extra 3.5 million cubic metres from the Von Bach and Swakoppoort dams for Windhoek is not sustainable, as the two dams are already over-exploited. The supply from the north is also dwindling as there is a shortfall from the Berg Aukus mine. “The emergency resources at Berg Aukas Mine can supply 1.16 million cubic metres, the Kombat reservoir 1.1 million cubic metres – we are moving water faster than we thought we would be using,” he said.
Mostert stressed than if the water supply is not managed “we could see the Swakoppoort dam run dry by 30 August 2016 and the Von Bach by 13 September 2016. “We need a lot of inflow to get us to 2018. Every Namibian comes into play in this situation, we have to make a decision on what we want, there is a lot of work required, the public needs to start saving water yesterday! We need to target 25% conservation of water, hopefully we can target 20% so we can achieve supply for two rain seasons.”
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Abraham Nehemia stated that water wastage is on the increase even with the looming water crisis especially by government institutions.“I can only mange water if it is there, if it’s not there, what will I manage? There is only one thing which we have to do which is behavioral change. If you change your behaviour and use water differently you will save a drop and that drop will in turn become a bottle of water.” He stressed concern over government institutions that misuse water and take their time to repair leaking taps and toilets. Also stressing a similar concern were City of Windhoek Chief Engineer: Bulkwater and Wastewater, Ferdi Brinkman, and Manager: Corporate Communications, Marketing, Tourism and Customers, Joshua Amukugo. “We are having a lot of problems especially with government institutions who waste water. One such institutions is the Windhoek Prison whose bill is always high. Of the total amount on their water bill, 25% is of water that was used for good purposes while 75% of the bill is for water that was misused due to leaking taps and toilets. We have since told the Ministry of Works and Transport but they are dragging their feet with the repairs” said Amukugo.
Nehemia also expressed concern over the public’s negligence on using dam facilities for recreational purposes, “We have allowed our dams to be polluted, if you look at the water in the Goreangab dam it is polluted, we would be using that water but it is polluted”.
“The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry will design a Water Demand Management strategic plan which will be launched by the minister and implementation will take place. We will take measure with the municipality, car washes in Katutura, where necessary we will put up penalties, at the end of the day if Windhoek runs dry we can’t even look at Namibia. We have to remember that no water means no life, this is no longer an issue of the supply of the commodity but the availability. Water is a critical thing in Namibia”, said Nehemia.