Portable water crisis looms

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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE prevailing dry spell has set parts of Lesotho on course for erratic portable water supplies due to the delayed onset of the rainy season and the expected below average rainfall.

This was said by the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) this week.

The utility said in a statement that the hardest hit areas will include Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Maputsoe, Mapoteng, Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek.

“Due to the prevalent weather conditions where there has not been adequate rainfall for some time, the availability of water in the raw water sources in most operating centres is not adequate to meet the demand,” the statement reads.

“The hardest hit towns are Butha-Buthe, Leribe, Maputsoe, Mapoteng, Quthing and Mohale’s Hoek, which are currently experiencing water supply shortages. Other towns are expected to introduce restrictions in water supply from December 2018 as the storage dam levels continue to decrease.

“Areas within the capital city such as Moshoeshoe II, Maseru East, Maqalika and Selakhapane that are serviced from the Maseru Water Supply Treatment Plant are experiencing inconsistency in supply as well. This is due to inadequate flow in the Caledon River.”

WASCO said it has adopted measures to preserve water in the Maqalika, Qomoqomong and Maletsunyane rivers to improve water supply in drought-stricken areas.

“WASCO resorted to the use of the Maqalika reservoir which sometimes is unable to produce enough water to meet the demand. In addition to the use of Maqalika Dam in Maseru, the company has implemented a number of measures to save water and these include finding and repairing burst and leaking pipes, improved response times for burst and leaking pipes complaints, replacing old and ageing water infrastructure, as well as rehabilitation of supply network.

“Other measures taken during this season include requests for water releases into the Tséhlanyane River from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and water flow diversion at some of the raw water sources like the Qomoqomong River in Quthing and ‘Maletsunyane in Semonkong.

“WASCO continues to engage with relevant stakeholders to inform them about the situation and to partner with them in finding ways in which water can be saved.

“Users are advised to adopt efficient use of water practices such as using buckets in washing cars, watering cans for gardening, attending to dripping pipelines in their homes, using cups in the kitchen or bathroom when drinking and brushing teeth.”

The utility however, said areas supplied by Metolong reservoir safe from the water crisis as the dam currently has adequate water.

“In Teyateyaneng, Morija, Roma and other parts of Maseru, water supply is stable because the Metolong reservoir level is satisfactory.”

In April this year, Metolong Dam became full for the first time since it was handed over to WASCO by the Metolong Authority in 2016 when it recorded 53 million cubic litres.

WASCO’s director of operations and maintenance, ‘Mamathe Makhaola, told this publication in April this year that Metolong Dam would be able to supply those selected areas for 18 months.

“The dam is currently holding 53 million cubic litres and even if it stops to rain for the next year and a half, it will still be able to supply water without any challenges faced,” Ms Makhaola said in April this year.

The plant was constructed by a Chinese state-owned company hydropower engineering and construction company Sinohydro under the supervision of Metolong Authority.

The Metolong programme forms the first phase of the Lesotho Lowlands Water Supply Scheme which aims to ultimately bring water to all the communities living within the Lowlands regions.

The over M5 billion project’s first phase began distributing water to Mazenod, Roma and Morija in September 2014 while Teyateyaneng, Maseru High South reservoir in Lithabaneng and Lesotho Sun reservoir began receiving water from the same plant respectively in January, March and May 2015.

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