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MEDIA STATEMENT: URGENT APPEAL TO SAVE DRINKING WATER – Municipality embarks on a Water Saving Programme

Issued George Municipality, 20 January 2022

George Municipality has over the past year, following extensive pipe bursts throughout the year, as well as the infrastructure damage caused by 22 November and 06 December 2021 floods, reported to the public that the use of drinking water per day in George is currently higher than the amount of water that is being purified by our water treatment works. During last year the Annual Average Daily Demand for drinking water was 32 Ml per day and the current water treatment works output per day is 38Ml This is produced daily by the Old Water Treatment Works and the New Water Treatment Works which are both operating optimally.

There are several other factors involved, which include George being a city that offers an attractive lifestyle to families wishing to leave other provinces. We have just come through a very successful festive season with a welcome influx of visitors and our accommodation establishments remain well booked at present. The weather has improved considerably and the warmer weather means that our average daily demand is hovering at 38-39 Megalitres (Ml) per day, with peak days reaching even 40Ml/day.

Due to the disaster damage to infrastructure, the main storage reservoirs could never recover their storage capacity adequately to act as a backup for the high season demand, and the severely reduced storage available is continually being depleted further to make up the deficit between the peak season demand and the production capacity of the Old and New WTW that can produce a combined volume of 38Ml per day. This means that the municipality is meeting the daily requirement but has reached critically low storage volume in the main reservoirs that supplement the daily shortfall.

Replenishing the storage capacity in the reservoirs is of paramount importance as this acts as emergency storage in the event of major pipe bursts, unplanned outages at the WTW, or any other major event that impacts the potable water system. Currently, the volumes in the main storage reservoirs cannot provide this security of supply.

Forward planning is in place and the remedial and capacity (20Ml) extension projects funded by the BFI grant will extend the water treatment capacity for George and will be implemented in two phases over three years. The tender for the 20Ml Water Treatment Works has closed and construction of this plant should start within the next few months. The full construction period will however stretch over several years.

The overall funding required to ensure potable water security in the George system is R1.197 billion and the funding will be provided over the next forty (40) months for the full phases of the Potable Water Security and Remedial Works projects. The first allocation of R81.345 million has been approved and was included in the 2021/22 Adjustments Budget tabled in November 2021. There are currently 8 sub-components in various stages of procurement and implementation.

George Municipality has applied for R238m disaster funding for remedial work required to infrastructure damaged during the floods of November/December 2021. This includes remedial work to various pipelines that were damaged and remain vulnerable. To carry out these repairs certain bulk pipelines will need to be “shut off”, but this can only be carried out if there is the security of emergency supplies and the volume in the main reservoirs is stable.

Residents should note that although the GARDEN ROUTE DAM LEVEL remains at 100%, this is RAW WATER storage and not POTABLE or DRINKING WATER supply. The raw water needs to be treated at the George Old and New Water Treatment Facilities before it goes to the main potable water storage reservoirs for distribution into the reticulation system. The current water demand is higher than the production rate at these facilities.

To ensure our residents have continuous access to drinking water the municipality is embarking on a Water Saving Programme. We are asking all residents, businesses (including construction companies), schools, sports facilities to please carefully review their use of drinking water and to make a conscious decision to cut back on wastage, and the unnecessary use of drinking water.

The municipality is aware that such a program will require extensive awareness as well as a review of our municipal usage.
With immediate effect, the following is being put in place at all municipal sites:

• All municipal sports fields and facilities will immediately stop watering fields/gardens.
• Hippo Water Savers for toilet cisterns to reduce the volume of water used per flush will be installed, and push taps will replace manual free-flow taps for all bathroom facilities. The process to procure and install these is underway with implementation as soon as possible.

The Hippo Water Saver saves up to 3 litres of water every time a toilet is flushed and is ideal for older toilets. Made from durable, heavy-gauge polyethylene, the Hippo bag opens in a box shape underneath the large cistern float. When the toilet is flushed, the water confined within the Hippo is the volume saved. Push taps are more water-saving because they have a controlled water stream that limits water use. Push taps are a cost-effective solution to reduce water consumption and also improve and maintain hygiene.
• Our water leak teams have been supplemented with additional staff and are working on resolving Indigent water leakages as quickly as is possible. Walkthrough inspections are being conducted in certain areas of George that are known for not reporting water leaks and infrastructure is being checked for any unreported leakages.
• Screening of illegal car washes will be undertaken and legal car washes will be asked to continue using water sparingly. Many of these already recycle water as a standard practice.
• High water users will be contacted by our Finance department to raise awareness of excess consumption and ensure that no leaks are causing the excess usage.
• Burst pipes and other water-related matters are being dealt with to minimize water loss.
• The municipality has asked all of their building and construction service providers, as well as those working privately, to either make use of RAW WATER for construction purposes which can be obtained at the water treatment plant at the Denneoord new water treatment plant OR where applicable to use TREATED EFFLUENT WATER which can be obtained at the Gwaiing wastewater treatment plant. This is common practice during periods of drought or potable water supply constraints.

George Municipality appeals to the residents of George to USE WATER SPARINGLY and ONLY FOR BASIC NECESSITIES in particular during peak times.
Peak times are between 07h00 – 09h00 in the morning, 12h00 to 14h00, and 17h00 to 20h00.

• Please do not water your garden with a hosepipe. Use rainwater tanks where available. Only water when it is cool- to reduce evaporation and wastage.
• Don’t wash your car using a hosepipe. Use a water bucket instead
• Don’t fill your swimming pool or hose down your driveway with drinking water.
• Sports facilities and schools are asked to please not irrigate fields unless using stored rainwater.
• Please only use drinking water for necessities – close taps properly, fix leaks at home – this will save you money each month!
• MOST IMPORTANTLY PLEASE Report water leaks and burst pipes to 044 801 9262/66 or after hours at 044 801 6300, OR via our formal channels of or George Municipal APP. Each fault must be correctly logged and receive a reference number to save time in assigning repair teams.

Dam level: 100% (unchanged)
Estimated level at new dam wall height: 97%
Rainfall since 12 January 2022: 2mm