Despite the level of water at Gaborone dam having reached it’s all times lowest of 7.3% of full capacity, Minister of Mineral, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila has said that people will not go without water.
It is the first time in the history of the dam to reach such low capacities and this has brought a public outcry as people are worried that they may go without water should the dam fail.
However, Mokaila insists there is no cause for worry as Water Utilities Corporation is working tirelessly to make sure that the taps do not completely run dry. The minister acknowledged that the drying up of Gaborone dam is a concern but said it is not the only source of water for the greater Gaborone. The dam provides only 56% of the water consumed in the area.
Mokaila stated that WUC is getting water from different other sources to complement the little that is remaining in the Gaborone Dam. The Gaborone Dam supply is boosted by water from Bokaa dam which contribute 25% of the water consumed in Greater Gaborone, Letsibogo dam at 36% and Molatedi dam which contribute 16% at full allocation. Mokaila also revealed that due to the continued water challenges in the area, his ministry has also decided to revive the boreholes in Ramotswa to help in the shortage of water. He said a water treatment plant is being built in Ramotswa to clean the water from the dams.
He also said 60 million cubic litres of water will be drawn from the north through the North-South carrier to address shortage of water in the south. According to Mokaila, the amount of water drawn from the north is to be increased from 60 to 70 million cubic litters. “We are planning to build another pump station to increase the water we get from the north,” said the minister. He added that they are also planning to construct North-South Carrier 2 to draw more water from rivers in the north which have more water.
WUC has indicated that should the Gaborone Dam fail, which is highly likely looking at the changing rain fall patterns and climatic change, they have measures in place to make sure the people continue to get water. However, water rationing is expected to continue in order to reduce the amount of water used by individuals. Currently every area in the greater Gaborone is rationed three times in a week. The average water demand for this area is 145 million litres per day (ml/d) on a peak season and the rationing reduces this to 110ml/d.
At the current capacity, the dam is expected to dry up sometime in November if no rains are recorded. For the past rainy season, the dam received a relatively low inflow due to low rainfall in the area. However, minister Mokaila pointed that studies have also attributed the low inflows to the cumulative impact of numerous small dams that exist in the dam’s catchment area and the negative change in rainfall patterns.
The dam may however experience some rainfall as the department of Metrological services foresee improved rains from October 2014 to January 2015. According to the department’s seasonal rainfall outlook suggest that the south east region has an increased likelihood of getting above-normal to normal rainfalls which will be a blessing to the drying Gaborone dam. However, the earlier mentioned small dams in the catchment area of the dam may still pose a problem to the inflow of water into the dam.
Speaking at the update on the water issue, WUC acting Chief executive Officer, Nginani Mbayi urged Batswana to use water sparingly and obey the set water restrictions. Mbayi said the restriction were set to curb the wastage of water that has been going on in the country. Potable water is not supposed to be used for watering plants, construction, washing vehicle using hose-pipes as well as filling the swimming pools.
Just like the minister, Mbayi is worried with the continued misuse of water even in the difficult times of water shortages. Vandalism also remains a big problem WUC as some people destroy the corporation’s resources.