Higher lying areas can get water, if properly planned

I refer to the editorial opinion, “Water questions remain” (TotT, February 25).

Some high lying areas of Port Alfred have been without municipal water for the past six weeks. The explanation for the sudden appearance of water in parts of the West Bank, after weeks without, was not that there was some new-found additional water supply. It was simply that the municipality directed water from the limited supply to that area, by closing and opening valves appropriately and pumping where necessary.  This can be done to supply any specific area of the town.

However, the municipality’s method of saving water has been to completely stop supplies to high areas, while supplying the lower areas of the town continuously – with no rationing.  This is the cheapest option and requires no planning or extra effort. However, it is morally wrong and a violation of the Constitution.

We have frequently been told that the problem is that water cannot be pumped to the high areas.  This is untrue, as evidenced by the fact that, very occasionally, some high areas have received water at good pressure. Obviously it requires planning and extra effort in manipulation of valves and pumps.

Any municipality in hilly terrain has to make provision for getting water to its high lying areas and has an obligation to supply high and low areas equitably, whether in drought or plenty.  It is unacceptable that the municipality has been denying water to high areas, while regularly supplying an unrestricted flow to lower areas.

All residents pay a water availability charge and should be entitled to an equitable share of whatever water is available, however restricted. At the height of the severe water shortage in Cape Town, all areas, low or high, were supplied with water – under strict rationing terms.

The plan to supply the whole town for four hours every day predictably would not work for the high areas. The obvious solution is to supply different areas of the town in a properly planned, professionally executed rotation.

The provision of strategically placed tanks, from which people can manually draw water, is not an acceptable substitute, particularly in communities where residents are in their seventies and eighties.

While we have some water may it be fairly shared.

MICK GAMMON

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