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South African water restrictions:

Government to announce water allocation before month’s end

Cape Town residents will have to wait several weeks longer to hear if local water restrictions are to be further relaxed. Farmers, waiting to know their irrigation water allocation, are getting worried about the effects of the delay.

Rashid Khan, regional head of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, announced that officials from the national department would meet on November 14. Then it would be decided whether they could increase the water allocation to Cape Town, surrounding towns and to local fruit and wine growers who have been badly hit by the drought and the 60% irrigation water cut.

On November 19, department officials will meet with all the municipalities, irrigation boards and agricultural bodies that depend on the "big six" dams in the Cape water supply system.

"At the stakeholder meeting we will make known the decision from the department, and we will discuss the best way forward. Then what comes out of that stakeholder meeting will go back to national department," Khan said.

The total amount of water in the big six dams has hovered around 74% of storage capacity for the last two weeks - double the 37% it was this time last year.

Khan said in the meantime the department had released irrigation water for the farmers on November 1 - the start of the new hydrological year. The Department of Water and Sanitation had cut off irrigation water once agriculture had reached its quota when dam levels were dangerously low.

The water that farmers are getting now is from the new hydrological year's quota, but for the time being they are still bound by the 60% reduction until the department makes its decision on whether this cut can be reduced.


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