Much needed rain seen as blessing on Metro

Posted: October 21, 2010 in News
Tags: , , , ,

By Sanelisiwe Maliza

It has been a tough year for Nelson Mandela Bay with a year-long drought. The rainmaker finally answered the flood of prayers that came from Nelson Mandela Bay as heavy showers fell on the Thursday morning of 14 October 2010, giving the city much needed relief from the dire water shortage which it was experiencing.

Admiralty Way, Summerstrand

The heavy falls that came in the early hours of Thursday morning caused havoc in the city.  Animals had to be evacuated from the Animal Welfare Society shelter due to rising waters. 17 roads were reported to be flooded and were closed down. Many shacks were destroyed by the floods.  In one of the worst drought the city has seen in 130 years, many saw the rain as a blessing. Weather SA spokesman Tipuo Tawana said most areas in the Bay received about 50mm of rain from Wednesday to Thursday afternoon. It gave the city slight relief from its struggles which included restrictions and economic downfall.

The drought that the city has been experiencing has gravely affected the economy of the city and small businesses. There were fears due to the demand of hosting the World Cup, that the city would be almost waterless.

Many businesses including hotels and motor manufacturing companies were warned to save water at every chance. Rob Hitchens from the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium said, “To reduce our water consumption, we water in the morning at two o’clock. It’s more economical”.

AgriSA predicted that countless farmers were facing insolvency in the coming year and job loss that could run well into the thousands. Without water there has been a decline in farm production. “We buy more and more fruits and veggies outside of Port Elizabeth because farmers have problems, and due to more food production outside of Port Elizabeth their prices are cheaper,” said Silumko Nxati, 47, who runs a fresh produce stall.  

Port Elizabeth isn’t the only area that has been affected by a drought. Most of the Eastern Cape has been declared a disaster areaas well as parts of the Western Cape. In Queenstown, the situation has been worse where water dried up in the taps. The water shortage appears to be a trend which exhibits the changing climate of the area. Research by the Department of Water Affairs has shown that, in 20 years, the Eastern Cape will be classified as a semi-desert.

In addition to the disaster area declaration, the city has applied for funding to the total of 1.6 billion to implement measures that will combat water shortage problems, such as the implementation of a desalination plant (R750 million), which is a process that removes excess salt and other minerals from water. Other measures include fast tracking of the Nooitgedacht Low Level Scheme (R650 million) and effective Water Demand Management (R80 million).

Furthermore, water is being pumped from the Orange River from a tunnel at Gariep Dam in the Free State into the Fish River to ensure appropriate supply for the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole.

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