Lack of rain in Western Cape hits farmers hard


Dry river, parched earth, drought“The lack of rain in the province this past season has hit the agricultural sector hard and emerging and commercial producers were equally affected. If the water levels of dams don’t rise soon, residents in urban areas will also be feeling the impact of the drought through water restrictions.

“Agri Western Cape calls on all role players in the value chain that support primary agriculture to get together to reflect on how the next 18 to 24 months should be managed. All tiers of government must take note that the drought will have a domino effect on rural towns, its residents and businesses.”

Boshoff added that wheat producers in the Sandveld region were experiencing one of the worst droughts since 1957 with some producers estimating that their losses on dry land may amount to R3 million per 800 ha.

“The Swartland experienced one of the driest seasons in 75 years with less than half of the region’s average rainfall measured so far. Two months ago producers were looking forward to a record harvest, but the wheat has since suffered extensive damage due to the lack of rain.”


Greytown, KZN without water

Hazelmere Dam Low Water

Pietermaritzburg – As Midmar Dam’s level continues to drop and extreme drought conditions persist across KwaZulu-Natal, Greytown residents and businesses are feeling the heat.

On Thursday, Umgeni Water presented their annual performance presentation at the Durban Hilton Hotel, and it was revealed that Midmar dam levels have not been this low since the drought of 1983.

Earlier this week, the KZN Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs announced that water levels at Merthley Lake in Greytown have dropped to an alarming 10%.

They announced that access to water in Greytown will be restricted to four hours a day from 4 am to 8 am. Outside those hours residents must fetch water from 85 JoJo tanks around the town.


However, Greytown resident and Arcadia Old Age Home manager Wessel Pretorius said yesterday that the water only started flowing freely out of their taps at 7 am, instead of 4 am.

“It is a disaster. The water only came on properly at 7 am and the JoJo tanks are not always full,” he said.

He said the old age home was fortunate enough to have gained funds recently to drill a borehole on the property.

“We have been able to drill a borehole so we are secure for the time being. We could not afford to be without water as an old age home. It would have been a nightmare if we were.”

He said they still had to conserve as much water as possible in case the rains do not come.

Greytown residents said they have been receiving water for only an hour instead of the proposed four hours of water a day.

Greytown local Christopher Khan said things have been “very difficult” for him and his family during the water restrictions.

“The water only started coming out of our taps at around 7.30 am. We then have to boil the water and store it. They say four hours, but there is hardly any water at all.

“We cannot rely on the water coming from the taps or the tanks, as it is often murky. We have to buy bottled water to drink.”

Another local, Chantelle Smit, said her family is considering moving out of Greytown because the water situation is “unacceptable”.

“The water comes out the taps from 6 am to 7 am for us, but when we get to work there is nothing. We have to buy water to drink. Everyone is really frustrated.

“We need water to survive and all the planning for this should have been done long ago but now it is too late.

“We are seriously considering moving,” she said.

A resident, who would not be named, said although most of Greytown is co-operating and “really trying” to conserve water, there is a “pocket of people” vandalising JoJo tanks and stealing water to clean their cars.

“There is an Umvoti Water Crisis team who meet once a week and have come up with a lot of plans to alleviate the drought as much as possible, but at the moment it is a crisis and it is a disaster,” said the local.

Greytown Boxer store manager Lenton Moodley said sales in bottled water have increased dramatically during the water restrictions. He said many people have been buying the 1,5 litre and five litre bottles. Other supermarkets in the area also said sales in bottled water have skyrocketed, some by almost 50%.

The Umvoti Municipality said they could not comment and said Umzinyathi Water would have to comment.

Umzinyathi Water did not comment at the time of going to print yesterday