FNB Acacia

Southern Botswana dries up

SHARE   |   Monday, 07 September 2015   |   By Othusitse Tlhobogang
Mokaila Mokaila

• as water situation deteriorates

The southern parts of the country will experience yet other shortage of water starting this weekend as the North-South carrier shuts down for maintenance. This comes hardly two weeks after the severe water shortage that hit the greater Gaborone area with people going for up to four days without running water.  
Even though the situation seems to be worsening by the day Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila says it is getting better. Addressing the media on Thursday Mokaila assured Batswana that the situation will improve as his ministry is working around the clock to come up with ways to stabilising the situation.  
The minister said as long as government remains focused on the water situation there will be achievements. “I want to give assurance to this nation that we know what we are doing. Unfortunately water projects take time, they do not happen overnight but systematically we will achieve the ultimate goal of supplying Batswana with water,” said Mokaila admitting the problems.   
He said the situation of water could be back to semi-normal if it was not of the leaks experienced on the North South Carrier pipeline. There have been complaints from all angles that the pipes have been made using cheap material hence the continued leaks. Explaining further Mokaila said the pipes are made of Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) and they have reached their lifespan hence the leaks.
The minister however said works are continuing to replace the GRP with steel pipes as they have a longer lifespan. “These pipes were used because at the time there was an agreement to support local business. They were manufactured locally hence they were used,” clarified Mokaila. The current water shortage is expected to normalise by today (Sunday) as maintenance works are expected to be finished by then. However some area may experience shortages even beyond this time given the time it takes to saturate some areas. 
It has emerged that since the failure of the Gaborone dam the Greater Gaborone area and the surrounding areas has been operating at a demand deficit of 26 per cent a day. According to Water Utilities Corporation General Manager Motshwaedi Mpheke on a normal day they can only provide this area with 91.8 mega litres. This is the 60 mega litres from the North-South Carrier, 20 mega litres from Masama and 4.8 from Molatedi dam leaving a deficit of water which is a shortage of 26 per cent.
To avert the situation of shortage the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources together with Water Utilities are trying to come up with contingency plans. Deputy Permanent Secretary for projects at the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Thatayaone Dedede said they are currently looking at fast tracking the construction of North South Carrier 2 which will help pump more water to the south. Dedede also pointed out that they are also in a process of building a pump station at Leshibitse which will help to carry 170 mega litres of water. However, he explained that without the expansion of Masama treatment plant it will be difficult to process all the water therefore a pipeline will be built to carry the water to Gaborone water works for treatment.
According to Dedede this will help with fast saturation of the Greater Gaborone area  which usually experiences severe shortages of water. “This will quicken the distribution of water over the area like Tlokweng, Gabane, Mogoditshane, Mmopane and others,” said Dedede. He further explained that it takes too long to distribute water to these areas hence the longer shortage of water.
In another move government is looking at fast tracking the Chobe/Zambezi water project which is envisaged to alleviate the shortage of water. Mokaila also said the ministry has even gone outside the country to benchmark. He said they are currently looking at a possibility of using underground water storage which is commonly used in Israel.  Dedede said the country is rich with saline water which is normally not used for consumption adding that they are looking at treating this water and pumping it underground for future use. The Israeli delegation is expected in Botswana in the near future to do further explorations on this and determine if it is viable here.
Water Utilities Corporation has expressed concern about the loss of water in the country. In their 2014 annual report they have indicated that there is a 25 per cent water loss which cost the company millions of Pula. WUC Infrastructure Director Gaselemogwe Senai even pointed that in some areas the loss can go up to 50% .Senai said this is a worrisome turn of events and urged Batswana to start conserving water.  As a result of this WUC has taken a step to benchmark with Israel on water loss prevention. Senai pointed out that Israel as a national has a three per cent water loss hence the decision to engage them.
Mokaila said he believes all these initiatives will drastically improve the water supply situation when completed. He said funds have been availed for the development of water infrastructure. It has been revealed that parliament has approved P3.2 billion for the developments.