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A lot of heat, but no water

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“The city’s consumption levels are extremely high, even when repair work on the reticulation network is taken into consideration. The extremely high temperatures are also not helpful.”

WHILE the city continues to wilt under the current heatwave, with little relief in sight from scorching temperatures hovering around the 40 degrees Celsius mark for the next few days, the Sol Plaatje Municipality is set to once again cut water to residents.

The Office of the Executive Mayor sent out a notice yesterday informing of a 24-hour-long water cut – from 1pm on Saturday until 1pm on Sunday.

The reason given for the cut is to increase levels at the Newton Reservoir.

“This measure is being taken to lift the current levels at Newton to secure and sustain levels for the peak demand,” the notice states.

An urgent appeal has also been made to residents to reduce their daily water consumption drastically.

“The city’s consumption levels are extremely high, even when repair work on the reticulation network is taken into consideration. The extremely high temperatures are also not helpful.”

According to the notice, the measure is not water restrictions but residents have been warned that this could be on the cards if water usage is not drastically curbed.

“The municipality has not imposed water restrictions, however, if the current water use trend continues, water restrictions shall be imposed.”

The water cuts are despite the fact that the municipality has started production from the old water purification plant, which has seen an additional 10 megalitres being pumped to the city per day. “Installation of the two new transformers (at the new pump station) has also commenced,” the notice states.

“As part of the commissioning process, we are monitoring the pumping from Riverton as well as the pipelines to the city as a matter of priority.

“We urge our consumers to use water sparingly and report any pipe bursts as soon as possible on

053 830 6111.”

According to the South African Weather Office, today’s maximum temperature is expected to be 40 degrees Celsius. From tomorrow until Monday, the maximum will be 38 degrees Celsius. Slightly cooler weather with a maximum of 34 degrees Celsius is expected from Tuesday.

From a high of 15 feet earlier this week, the levels at the Newton Reservoir have dropped to 12.6 feet on Tuesday and dropped even further to 11 feet by yesterday afternoon. According to workers at the reservoir, the levels are “being monitored on an hourly basis”.

City residents reacted with anger to the announcement of the water cuts, pointing out that the municipality was doing little to attend to water losses caused by burst water pipes.

“Water leaks and broken pipes are reported regularly to the municipality, but if they get around to addressing the issue within five hours, it is considered an achievement,” one resident stated. “Cutting the water will only lead to more burst pipes. The attitude of the municipality is one of arrogance, despite their total incompetence.”

Another resident pointed out that the “water is pouring down Milner Road”. “The municipality should start fixing before restricting.”

“It is very very hot in kimberley and we need water for our daily activities. We have old people, children and babies who need the water. It’s no use telling us to make provisions for Saturday 1pm to Sunday 1pm, when they know very well, that it will be off for longer because that is always what happens,” another said, adding that “we are paying a fortune for water every month. This service is pathetic”.

Concern was also expressed for those who could not afford to buy drinking water, especially in the current heat.

“If the municipality cuts water, it should make provision for those who are not fortunate enough to have jo-jo tanks or to buy water. Instead it makes an announcement and then leaves residents to fend for themselves, irrespective of the consequences.”

Another resident stated that instead of cutting the supply over a weekend, the municipality should rather revert to the nightly shutdowns when the impact isn’t as great on the residents.

Dr Lizl Badenhorst, Hospital Clinical Manager of Mediclinic Kimberley/Gariep, explained following inquiries yesterday that having drinking water was one of the basic living needs of every human being, if not the first.

“A healthy adult can live up to three weeks without food, but can only survive three to four days without drinking water. In this heat it might even be less and then we are not even talking about our babies, children or vulnerable elderly population.”

She added that while the hospital did not keep statistics about patients coming in with the negative effects of having no drinking water available . . . “I can say that we see often see critically ill patients as a result of dehydration coming in through our emergency unit”.

“During extremely hot weather as we are experiencing now, you may need to drink even more than you normally do. During hot weather most people undervalue the importance of water. Even becoming slightly dehydrated will bring about noticeable health changes.”

The first symptoms of dehydration are often thirst, headache, dryness in the mouth and skin and fatigue. Children under five and elderly people are more susceptible and will present much earlier with complications

“Dehydration is a direct effect from drinking insufficient water which can lead to life-threatening complications as hypovolemic shock, renal failure, cognitive impairment and confusion. It can also cause a chemical imbalance. Chemical imbalances can cause irregular heart rhythms and convulsions.”

Dr Badenhorst added that body temperature was also affected by a lack of drinking water.

“The water inside your body acts as a cooling mechanism, both for external skin and internal organs. This internal cooling system may not function properly if you are not drinking enough water, which can cause heat cramps, a quickened pulse, dizziness and light-headedness. In severe cases, heat stroke can occur, which can be life-threatening.