An Egyptian boy drinks water from a pump in Abu Passat village in Al Fayyum, about 80 km southwest of Cairo. Picture: REUTERS
An Egyptian boy drinks water from a pump in Abu Passat village in Al Fayyum, about 80 km southwest of Cairo. Picture: REUTERS

The Stellenbosch municipality on Monday imposed stricter water restrictions by limiting home owners to 6,000 litres a month.

The municipality, which governs the towns of Stellenbosch‚ Franschhoek and Pniel, receives two-thirds of its municipal water from Cape Town via the Wemmershoek and Theewaterskloof dams.

The new restrictions were imposed to bring the area in line with other municipalities that have already lowered monthly consumption to 6,000 litres a month per household or 50 litres per person‚ per day.

"As of the end of March the municipality will switch over to our own water sources‚ which will make us independent from Cape Town’s water sources. By doing so more water will be made available to the city’s residents‚" the municipality said in a statement.

"Our own water sources should be sufficient during this crisis. Every resident should do their part in conserving water and stick to the new water restrictions."

Stellenbosch’s new water restrictions ban the use of potable water for gardening or water features.

Borehole owners were urged to comply with a directive by the department or water and sanitation to fit them with a device to monitor water consumption.

Stellenbosch is known for its surrounding wine farms‚ which have seen crop sizes diminish during the prolonged drought.

Agricultural co-operative VinPro’s communications manager, Wanda Augustyn, said wine farmers were already off the municipal water grid.

"The irrigation water they get is from dams on the farms. Various cellars have different contingency plans as to how they use water."

VinPro is a non-profit company which represents South African wine producers‚ cellars and industry stakeholders.

South Africa’s wine industry faces a challenging season ahead due to the continuing drought.

"Virtually no rain fell during the [December] period and many hot days (above 35°C) were recorded. Together with a persistent southeasterly wind‚ this increased the water consumption of vineyards. This available water is simply not enough to meet the needs of the vineyards at this stage.

"Vineyards are now beginning to show symptoms of water shortage and declining berry growth. Smaller berries mean a lighter harvest with lower juice levels which contribute to lower volumes‚" said Francois Viljoen‚ consultation service manager for VinPro.