Media Statement 13 February 2019
The Gift of the Givers team arrived in Makhanda on Tuesday 12 February. They were welcomed by Makana Municipality councillors and senior management at the 1820 Settlers Monument. From here they made their way to the City Hall for a short official programme. The Gift of the Givers are here to assist the municipality to provide water to residents who have been without water for about a week due to challenges at the James Klynhans Water Treatment Works which supplies water to Makhanda East.
On 1 February 2019, the Department of Water and Sanitation, (DWS) released water from the Fish River scheme to the Glen Melville dam whose water level was low and the incoming supply from the Fish River agitated the sediment resulting in high turbidity level measured at 1000 NTU.
No water could be treated at the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works as the plant is not designed to handle such high turbidity. The incoming turbidity is normally at 80 NTU which is already too high for the plant.
On the 7th February 2019, the raw water turbidity when tested was beyond the turbidity meter calibration. Since 6th February 2019, the treatment process could not remove the turbidity to acceptable levels and hence the clear water pumps had to be shut down. This meant that no water could be delivered to Makanda East community.
In his address during the press briefing on Tuesday Gift of the Givers Specialist Hydrologist, Dr Gideon Groenewald said from a scientific point of view the drought in South Africa is the worst we are going to experience in 220 years. “…these drought cycles are normal, they are part of the natural cycle on earth that we will experience and it is possible that in the next three years we will see this drought playing out because it’s actually busy growing its teeth,” he said.
He explained that the role of the Gift of the givers at this stage is just to solve the immediate crisis not the long term issues. Groenewald said they might also look at the possibility of drilling a number of boreholes in Makhanda.
The Gift of the Givers team arrived quite late yesterday 12 February and as a result distributions to the affected areas couldn’t be done. Water will be distributed in every ward today, in accordance with the schedule that is available on the municipal website www.makana.gov.za and on our Facebook page Makana Local Municipality Communication.
Makana Executive Mayor Mzukisi Mpahlwa has welcomed the assistance from the Gift of the Givers. “We really appreciate the gesture by the Gift of the Givers to come and provide some relief to our communities. Since Thursday our communities have been battling to access clean drinking water not because of any incompetence or sabotage or anything but simply because the water in the river had become so dirty that it needed to be clean first before it could be treated. So in the intervening period (four days) the Gift of the Givers generously stepped in to come and provide support and provide relief to those communities, for that we are eternally grateful.
A large number of East Cape Midlands College students arrived in front of the City hall while the press conference was under way inside and demanded water. Water was distributed to the students and local residents who were in the vicinity at the time. The six big trucks will only distribute water to the community today.