Gift of the Givers to Intervene in Graaff Reinet

The Nqweba Dam in Graaff Reinet is empty, dead fish are visible everywhere, boreholes have run dry, desperate residents collect water from unhygienic drains, children are pushed away from water tankers as residents "fight" for the little water that arrives. By all accounts, the town is on its knees, "water speaking" and drastic intervention is urgently required.

Gift of the Givers is the new official rapid response unit for the National Department of Water and Sanitation, as requested by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and announced at several public platforms by the Minister in recent weeks. Intervening in Graaff Reinet is an extension of our major intervention in Eastern Cape. We are currently involved in Adelaide, Bedford, Queenstown, King Williams Town, Nanaga and Makhanda; Butterworth is next.

Gift of the Givers will be sending three superlinks laden with water, three water tankers, a drilling machine and its hydrologist, Dr Gideon Groenewald, to Graaff Reinet on Tuesday, 1 October. Dr Groenewald has a thorough knowledge of the area having mapped a comprehensive report of groundwater sources in 1999, then commissioned and paid for by Dr Anton Rupert.

The main issue of supplying water to all communities is based on a simple reality that too little water reaches the main storage tanks in the lower lying areas to automatically let the booster pumps kick in to pump water to the higher reservoirs, resulting in water always being available in the lower part of the town but leaving people on higher ground completely dry. Most people living on higher ground are the previously disadvantaged.

The solution lies in developing existing or new boreholes, manage known aquifers, supply water at a rate that exceeds water use in low lying areas, allow pumping systems to run effectively and fill high lying reservoirs as a matter of urgency, and drill boreholes directly in high lying areas if the geography allows that. Dr Groenewald will deal with these issues.

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