Current water use not sustainable

16 September 2019 | Disasters

Windhoek • Elvira Hattingh

If the worst possible rainy season lies ahead for Namibia and no water flows into the country’s central dams, Windhoek will experience major water shortages as from May 2021 when the Von Bach dam is expected to dry up completely.
This is according to NamWater and the Windhoek Municipality (CoW) after social media messages were circulated claiming that central dams had only enough water for about four months.
According to CoW spokesperson Lydia Amutenya, official dates are based on the water supply action plan for central Namibia, based on Windhoekers saving 15% of water. “If we fail to save 15%, the dams providing us with water will run dry sooner,” she said. “Currently residents have managed to save 13% of water, which is commendable.”
Various sources provide Windhoek with water, which includes above ground, underground and recycled water. Semi-purified water is also made available for sports fields.
Every year NamWater’s hydrology department determines how much water is available and thereafter a water supply action plan is drawn up with stakeholders. This plan is monitored on a weekly basis and the water situation is adjusted every month to evaluate any deviations from the plan.
In a joint statement, NamWater and the CoW said that the plan of action for the next two years involves transferring water at a maximum capacity from the Karst boreholes, as well as the Berg Aukas and Kombat mine to the Von Bach dam.
According to a statement, “All the water that was in the Omatako dam has already been transferred to the Von Bach dam. At the moment water is being transferred from the Swakoppoort dam to the Von Bach dam at maximum capacity.
“Water is also being extracted from municipal boreholes, but at a rate well above sustainable levels, while Windhoek’s water purification plant provides purified water at maximum capacity,” according to the two parties.
As the dams reach their lowest levels, the dead storage volumes of the Swakoppoort and Von Bach dams will be withdrawn. This will be done with the aid of floating installations equipped with water pumps. In this way the dams’ dead storage water can also be used.
“At the moment all available resources that can supply water to the central area of Namibia are being fully used and provide water beyond sustainable user capacity.”
Amutenya said that NamWater currently supplies 35% of Windhoek’s water demand, while water recycling supplies about 25% of demand, and boreholes cover a further 40%.
In the meantime, NamWater and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry have begun developing additional water resources. – [email protected]