An ongoing water crisis threatening the survival of Clarens as we know it

A letter from the chairman of the Clarens Community Forum, Ray Meyers

”Dear Residents, Home and Business Owner
The Clarens Community Forum (CCF) is the single parent body representing all the forums in Clarens being the Clarens Tourism Forum, Clarens Rate Payers Association, Clarens Village Conservancy, Clarens Chamber of Commerce and the Combined Churches in Action. Together these forums represent the majority of Clarens residents, businesses, schools, churches and non-profit organisations. This letter of appeal stems from an ongoing water crisis threatening the survival of Clarens as we know it. The CCF has engaged with Dihlabeng Municipality for several months in order to address solutions to the crisis to no avail. We therefore have no alternative to address the crisis as a community and ask for your assistance in ensuring continued water supply. The situation with our proposed solution and appeal follows.

Problem

  1. Our village, including the three surrounding estates, is supplied with water extracted from the Little Caledon River and stored in the Townlands dam. This river has been dry for 4 months.
  2. The alternative source keeping us going is the TCTA Lesotho Highlands Water scheme; water is extracted at the station built for this purpose and pumped to the Townlands storage dam.
  3. The rate of extraction from the TCTA Lesotho Highlands Water scheme is currently 11 liters per second, or 1 mega liter per day, sufficient for 66% of the water usage of the village and surrounding estates, which is 1.5 mega liter per day. The balance of the water usage is extracted from the Townlands dam which is draining very quickly.
  4. If the drought continues and should the rate of extraction from the scheme remain constant, we estimate that we have approximately 50 days of supply left.

Solution

  1. The pump and motor at the extraction point of the TCTA Lesotho Highlands Water scheme can be replaced with a larger pump and motor plus about 3 meters of modified pipe, to deliver an increased capacity of 44 liters of water per second.
  2. The pipeline between the pump and the Townlands dam has the capacity to handle the increased volume.
  3. The switch gear needs to be modified to handle the new motor size.
  4. Such an upgrade will take 2 weeks to install.

Responsibility

  1. The responsibility of the upgrade lies with the municipality. The pump station was formally handed over by TCTA 20 years ago.
  2. The municipality has no funds for this project and would appear to underestimate the severity of the problem. To date no water restrictions have been implemented and no requests have been issued to the residents to conserve water.
  3. Through actions of residents and the CCF, the Department of Water assessed the situation and have undertaken to attempt to implement the solution.
  4. We expect a response from the Dept of Water Affairs on this matter by mid-Feb. Should the upgrade be agreed to, the timeline for implementation if initiated immediately, is end of Feb. Any delay in initiating that implementation would obviously have a knock-on effect.
  5. We are of the opinion that there is a high probability of supply of potable water from the Townlands Dam being exhausted by the end of Feb/ mid March. The presence of algae and weeds in the water makes the last meter or so unpotable.

Costs

  1. Three independent professionals have verified the solution; the cost has been quoted at R150k.

What can we do

  1. It is obvious that we need to raise the R150k as a community and act quickly to avoid running out of water completely.
  2. We are asking for donations from Clarens residents, business and home owners to enable us to implement this solution. Any amount is welcome. We have had pledges ranging from RlOOO – RSOOO from guest houses , R2000 – RlOOOO from businesses, R200 – R2000 from residents.
    Any donation towards this project can be paid into the trust account of Japie de Clerk, a local lawyer in Clarens.
    These are the bank details:
    JC de Clerk Trust, First National Bank, Bethlehem code 230133, Ace no 62403285837 Please use {Name/ Pump} as reference.
    Should the Dept of Water initiate the project timeously, all the donations will be held in trust to be utilized by the CCF and community for urgent repairs and maintenance to failing infrastructure, e.g. pumps needed to ensure continued supply of water.
    Should they Dept not initiate the project, the probability of any donations being refunded is highly unlikely.

Risk

  1. The equipment at the TCTA Lesotho Highlands Water scheme extraction point belongs to the Municipality and we don’t currently have permission to change it.
  2. We will seek this permission and do not anticipate resistance. However, if it is denied we can initiate urgent legal action to have the courts instruct the Municipality to
    allow us to do the upgrade.

Governance

  1. Should we achieve success in this endeavor, the funds will be managed by Japie de Clerk.
  2. Karel Meyer, a local businessman and CA, will provide monthly statements.
  3. Local fund raising projects have been initiated as well to ensure that we get to the amount required.