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Management of water shortages in a selected municipality in the Eden District, South Africa
The focus of the study is the Eden District, George municipal area, Western Cape Province, South Africa, which was severely affected by the worst ever drought in 132 years from 2009-2011 (Bamford, 2009). The reduced rainfall impacted negatively on urban water supplies for the area. In 2009 the Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Local Government in the province requested that George Municipality draw up specific measures to be implemented when water resources (in dams and rivers) dropped to certain levels. Plans for possible future drought situations, periods of low rainfall, or insufficient raw water resources, have been done put in place for the needs of the residents of the focus area. The research problem of this study encompasses the assessment of the interventions put in place to address the shortage of water, particularly the implementation thereof, and the strategies and mitigations that contributed to the alleviation of the water shortage. The core objective of the research was to investigate the implementation of the water interventions (water restrictions) authorised to address the water shortages in George, in November 2009. This study employed a qualitative research approach where in-depth interviews were conducted with purposely selected individuals employed in the George Municipality Civil Engineering Services Department, and its Water Services and Disaster Department sections as they could provide first-hand information on the measures implemented to alleviate the problem and on the water shortage status. The research findings indicate that many short-term strategies provided a substantial reduction in overall water usage. The implementation of the strategies and mitigation measures were useful to the various departments in the George Municipality in tangible ways to help manage the water shortages. George Municipality should continue to market water restriction awareness to the public even though the George is no longer experiencing water shortages. The Municipality should adapt to deal with longer and more frequent periods of water shortages. Available tools (e.g. drought policy and by-laws) should be revised and adapted to establish appropriate measures under changing conditions.
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