Friday, October 30, 2009

More Water for PA?

- Linda Jaquet -

Every summer and even in winter our farmers, townsfolk and the Municipality of Prince Albert stress about sustainability of our water reserves. Some stress more than others and some water users have been suspected of using foul means rather than fair to squeeze more than they are entitled to out of their leiwaterbeurt.

This situation is hopefully about to improve when the water furrow (leiwatervoor) piping from the mountain to the Municipality’s reservoirs at the entrance to the town is completed at the end of October. According to Kallie Erasmus, the Vice Chair of the Kweekvallei Water Users Association (KWUA), the pipeline will mean a gain of 20% more water for the town. Both Kallie and I D Vorster, Chair of the KWUA reassured water users at an informal meeting of members of the KWUA in October that the significance of the water gain would be felt during the hottest months of the year – December to February - when scientific observation showed that there was a loss of 35% of the water due mainly to evaporation from the open, concrete furrow.

Kallie and ID informed the water users that the new pipeline would also ensure a constant stream of water to the Municipality 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Historically, the Municipality has drawn 18 hours of water every Thursday and Saturday from the furrow to provide drinking water to the town. Now, a “dividing box” in the furrow should mean that even in the dry months of the year, the Municipality will not have to depend on its boreholes and will be able to keep its reservoirs full and provide uninterrupted drinking water to the town. The improved stream to the Municipality is calculated pro rata according to the total number of hours the Municipality receives water. In addition to recharging Municipal reservoirs, a portion of the Municipality’s water supply will be made available on tender to arid farms.

Even the tortoises will benefit – a safe drinking area has been built along the furrow for them!

Having the furrow piped was a precondition for disaster relief funding from the Province during the severe drought in the town and surrounds some years ago. Water experts also held the view that it was the best means of improving and sustaining the town’s and agricultural users’ water source. For various reasons, including political wrangling in the local Municipal Council, the laying of the pipeline was delayed until August of this year. Once completed under the Municipality’s supervision, the KWUA will continue to maintain the pipeline and furrows in town and manage the supply of water to users.

Most water users have welcomed the piping particularly if it can guarantee both a constant domestic and an agricultural water supply when there is pressure and a high demand. Susan Perold of SoetKaroo wine estate told the Friend: “All in all, I think the constant stream will be good for all of us, rather like the drinkstroompie of years gone by.” Other water users were concerned about how water and water turns would be monitored and managed and not dominated by the same few members of the former Kweekvallei Irrigation Board management.

Members of the KWUA, which recently replaced the Kweekvallei Irrigation Board in terms of the National Water Act of 1996, have water entitlements in terms of the Kweekvallei founding proclamation. They pay a levy to the KWUA determined by the Department of Water Affairs.
While elections for a new management of the Association were to have been held on 29 October, they have been postponed indefinitely as not all members apparently received timeous notification.

Kallie explained that a public meeting would be held to talk more about the pipeline and other pressing issues, as well as set an alternative date for the election. One member told the Friend that the incoming management would not only have to manage the water system efficiently but strive for transparency in all its activities and decision-making.

No comments: