Water shedding may soon be a reality in Knysna as consumption surpasses supply


Should Knysna’s water levels drop any further, the town can expect even harsher water restrictions which may well include ‘water shedding’ - YOLANDÉ STANDER reports

LAST week the water level of Knysna’s main holding facility, the Akkerkloof Dam, reached 30%, which means there was only 19 days of water left at the time.
The town has not had sufficient rainfall in the catchment areas in recent months; the situation was further exacerbated by the ill-timed June fires sweeping through the area - this while residents’ water consumption remains beyond desired levels.
Municipal spokesperson Chumisa Kalawe confirmed that if the dam’s level dropped below 30%, the municipality would have to implement Level 4 water restrictions.
This regime will result in water shedding, which will see the closing of water valves to be opened through a roaming area on a three-hour timetable.
Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-spies said the latest water report revealed that consumption was still too high. “In Knysna it is 11.79 megalitres per day while the preferred consumption is 10 megalitres. In Sedgefield, it is 2.15 megalitres while the preferred consumption is 1.9 megalitres,” Bouw-Spies said.
She added that, therefore, potable water remained under severe pressure, and that the town was still operating under the Level 3 water restrictions implemented during March this year.
This means that potable water is for human consumption only, that no gardens may be watered - not even with a bucket - and that vehicles or boats may not be washed.
All residents and businesses are also restricted to using 20 kilolitres of water per month and those who do not adhere to the limit would have to pay punitive tariffs.
“We urge residents to use water sparingly and to be our eyes and ears on the ground and report water abuse.”
The town’s largest water sources - Knysna and Gouna rivers, which supply about 90% of the town’s water - have been running at below average since last year due to lacking rainfall.
In total, the rivers and other smaller sources supply the town with about 10.6ML, while water is also augmented from Akkerkloof Dam. The dam can hold more than 800ML (about three months’ supply) but can only be augmented when usage in town is low enough for surplus water to be pumped to the storage facility.
Several mitigating measures have been implemented and discussed over the past few months, including punitive tariffs to curb wasteful usage, strict enforcement of water restrictions, and the installation of water management devices that limit water supply to properties. There have also been a leak-repair programme and water-wise awareness campaigns.
Other more extensive measures being considered include the installation of catchment tanks to store rain water, and drilling for boreholes or digging wells.
“To assist residents, we are currently securing water tankers to provide builders with a few litres of water for construction,” Bouw-Spies said.
“We ask builders to ensure that they have storage for a minimum of 500 litres on site. This will help our tankers to deliver and operate efficiently. If landowners can capture rainwater for building purposes, we ask that you do so and that you look at alternative sources to augment your water supply for building purposes.”
Garden Route Media