CoW to escalate water restrictions as supply dries up

Niël Terblanché

The City of Windhoek (CoW) is on the brink of declaring a severe Category D water scarcity, compelling it to implement stringent water-saving measures as water supply to the capital is under severe strain.

This decision follows a drastic reduction in water supply by NamWater, which has decreased from 75% to 40% of the city’s total demand due to critically low water levels in the primary supply dams.

At a meeting on Thursday evening the deputy mayor of Windhoek, Joseph Uapingene said there is a need to reduce water consumption by at least 10%.

“Unfortunately, water-conserving targets have not been reached as per the current Category C water scarcity scale defined by the City’s Water Demand Management Plan,” he said.

The Von Bach, Swakoppoort, and Omatako dams, which supply water to Windhoek, have been reported to have insufficient reserves to sustain the city for the next two years in the absence of significant rainfall.

According to the latest dam bulletin provided by NamWater, the Von Bach Dam is at a mere 11% capacity, the Swakoppoort Dam, although at 36%, suffers from poor water quality and transfer issues, and the Omatako Dam is virtually empty.

In response to these dire circumstances, the Uapingene has called upon residents to adopt more rigorous water conservation practices.

He indicated that the added water restrictions will enforce the use of buckets for car washing, mandate the covering of swimming pools, and restrict the watering of gardens to twice per week.

According to Uapingene, the city plans to augment its water supply with groundwater, which, although high in iron and manganese, poses mainly aesthetic issues rather than affecting water safety.

He said the City Council, under pressure to manage the dwindling resources effectively, will not offer rebates for water leaks and has adjusted its block water tariffs to encourage reduced consumption.

Uapingene said these measures are part of a broader effort to ensure that Windhoek can navigate what may become one of the most challenging periods in its recent history.

He added that the focus is squarely on sustainability and strategic resource management, as the city braces itself for continued dry conditions.

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