The Vaal River. Picture: SOWETAN
The Vaal River. Picture: SOWETAN

Parliament’s portfolio committee on water and sanitation has warned that the release of water from the Sterkfontein Dam to replenish the Vaal Dam is no excuse to abuse water.

This was said on Monday after the sluice gates of the Sterkfontein Dam near Harrismith‚ Free State‚ were opened‚ letting water flow to the Vaal Dam to raise its level to at least 25%.

Sterkfontein Dam is a reserve water source‚ used only in times of need.

In a statement‚ the portfolio committee welcomed the move by the Department of Water and Sanitation, but said the water reserves must not be taken for granted.

"Communities have to be reminded that we continue to face one of the most debilitating droughts and they must take steps to reduce consumption. The responsibility is upon every individual to make a conscious decision to conserve the little water we currently have to avoid worsening an already dire situation‚" said committee chairman Mlungisi Johnson.

The committee urged municipalities to monitor residents closely‚ ensuring compliance with restrictions.

"By-laws must be implemented to the letter. Fines must be issued for those that defy the restrictions‚" said Johnson.

The Vaal Dam provides water to many of Gauteng’s municipalities‚ including the economic hub of Johannesburg.

Ekurhuleni will start rolling out water rationing on Monday night from 9pm to 5am. The city told residents to reduce water use or suffer day-time rationing too.

Johannesburg Water spokesman Tidimalo Chuene said on Monday that level three water restrictions may have to be considered if the water-saving target of 15% was not reached.

"If we are not able to make the saving we want‚ we will need to go to level three. But we are reluctant to go to level three due to the serious implications for infrastructure. We need to make it work at level two‚" she said.

Ekurhuleni last month started levying penalties for excessive water use. So far, about 3,000 businesses and 41,000 households have used water in excess of the allowed quantities. The city has charged R1.7m in fines.

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