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Local water rapidly declining, here are the measures which need to be taken

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As the pandemic sets root within the Amajuba District, Newcastillians focusing on the growing number of COVID-19 cases, have we missed a potential problem within our area?

This follows the Department of Water and Sanitation in KwaZulu-Natal urging KZN residents to use water prudently. This is due to water levels remaining below average.

According to a recent statement issued by the Department, its weekly dam levels report has shown a marginal decline in the province’s dam levels. According to the Department’s reports, dam levels dropped to 59.8% last week, from 60,2% the previous week.

The most severely affected dams in KZN includes the Albert Falls dam which flows in the Umgeni River just outside Pietermaritzburg. According to the Department the dam’s levels stands at a devastating 39,8%.

Also recording a below average percentage is the Pongolapoort Dam in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, which stands at 42,5%.

What about our dams? Where does the Ntshingwayo (Chelmsford)Dam stand?

According to the Department, the Ntshingwayo Dam water levels dropped to 71.1% this week. This is a significant drop, with the levels standing at 72,5% a mere two weeks ago.

With the dam levels dropping, what can we as residents do to save water?

Angus Burns, Senior Program Manager at WWF South Africa, explains the declining dam levels are to be expected. “This is because we are in a region which usually experiences rainfalls during the summer period,” he explains.

While explaining the environment has adapted to expecting rainfalls during the summer months, Angus explains that climate change is affecting weather patterns.

This can be seen through long dry periods, followed by sudden heavy rainfalls over a short period of time.

However, as we are currently in the dry period, Angus says it is important to start practising water-saving measures.

Angus explains these measures include not watering your lawn or garden during the winter months. “Unless you are watering your vegetable garden for food, it is pointless watering your garden now,” he emphasises.

Furthermore, he encourages residents to implement a number of water-saving measures at home. “There are what I like to call luxuries, such as showering twice a day. Rather shower once a day.

He also encourages people to use water reduction devices such as low-flow showerheads in their showers, which can reduce water usage substantially.

“People should also look at rainwater harvesting, which you can use to water your garden and sustain yourself with. This can help lessen the burden on the dams.”

Further water conservation measures include:

  • Not using a hose to wash your car.
  • Not letting the faucet run when washing your vegetables.
  • Do not let the faucet run when brushing your teeth.
  • Keep a bottle of water in the fridge for drinking. This saves running the faucet until the water is cool enough to drink.
  • Showering is also more water-efficient than bathing.

However, one of the key factors in saving water lays in the urban setting.

Angus encourages residents to not only fix leaking taps, but to also report leaking pipes in Newcastle.

With aging infrastructure, Angus explains that leaking pipes is an all to common sight in Newcastle and a contributing factor to water wastage.

“If you see leaking pipes in town, it is important for you to report it to the Newcastle Municipality.”

By addressing water leakages in town and resolving the problem, Angus believes this will help ease the burden of the declining water levels.

Through taking the necessary water-saving steps, you can help ease the burden on the dams and make a positive impact on the community.

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