Residents of Rhodana village in Cacadu say they have been reduced to drinking water from a river with cows.
They say the village has been without water for nearly eight months after an upgrade to their water scheme by Chris Hani District Municipality (CHDM) caused the water to run intermittently and then completely stop.
“A little time water came out of our taps last Friday, but we have effectively been two months without water,” said Mzwabantu Nkamteni, the chairperson of the village committee.
“We never had problems. Before the upgrade, people had water, but now we have to go and draw from a river, especially those who cannot pay people to transport it for them,” said Nkamteni.
He said they had meetings with the mayor but that had not improved the situation.
Nkamteni also said water had been delivered by trucks, but that has stopped. “We have been reduced to drinking water with the cattle.”
Didivane High School principal, Linda Ntlanganisa said the situation at his school was ‘awful’ and they had to go to distant villages.
He said they were now using water from the same river used in the village. “We have to use money to hire people to transport water to the school. They get it from the river. It is not an exaggeration to say we drink water with cows.”
Principal of Rhodana Primary, Xolani Manqina said his school had been completely cut off from the water supply for months.
“We tell pupils to bring water in two-litre bottles which we put into a barrel. It is used to prepare food for them and wash dishes. The tankers that come to the village from the municipality never come to the school,” said Manqina.
He said although the school had never had running water, they had water tanks which have completely run dry. He also said the school had a tap nearby from which they drew water, but since the overhauling of the water system it had no water.
Thobeka Mqamelo, spokesperson of CHDM, said the village water system needed upgrading because of illegal connections and demand due to population growth.
“Water supply installation in rural areas is done according to the RDP standards which prescribe access to drinking water within 200 metres of each household. The area had infrastructure to meet these standards. However, massive illegal connections – communities tampering with the lines to connect into their yards have impacted negatively on the supply in the area, causing shortages.
“In a bid to counter this, the district municipality upgraded the water scheme to meet the demand. Two more villages which did not have access to water in the old scheme were also connected as part of the upgrade – Jiphutha and Makhikhi,” said Mqamelo.
She said the new scheme which uses diesel experienced technical challenges because of excessive consumption elicited by the engine size resulting in inconsistency. She also said an application had been made to Eskom for electrical connection.
“The district municipality, however, can confirm that the scheme is running and there is water supply in the area. Chris Hani executive mayor Wongama Gela, with the water services technical team and Emalahleni Local Municipality mayor visited the area on July 9 to engage with the community on their water concerns. Technicians are monitoring the area.”
CHDM has distanced itself from provision of water to schools, saying that did not fall under its mandate.