Rhodes University is not about to run out of water, a spokesperson said in response to claims that the academic institution would have to close because of the water crisis in Makhanda.
“Contrary to a recent media report, Rhodes University is not about to shut down,” the university stated.
Communications manager Veliswa Mhlope said the statement from Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor Dr Sizwe Mabizela, which stated “Rhodes University will have to close its doors”, would only apply in the instance where there are no reasonable water sources.
In the meantime, treated water is being supplied from the Settlers Dam, whose capacity is running very low, and the university is supporting the Makana municipality’s crisis plan.
A plan has also been developed should the Settlers Dam run dry.
In that case, treated water will be supplied to the entire city, previously known as “Grahamstown”, on a rotational basis from the Glen Melville Dam via the James Kleynhans Water Treatment Works.
Not the responsibility of national department
The university is also helping the municipality get the treatment works operational again, and is assisting with the supply of clean water to communities on the eastern side of town.
Earlier on Monday, the Department of Water and Sanitation said a number of issues had resulted in the city’s current water woes.
It, however, said it was not the national department’s responsibility to deliver emergency water supplies to parched towns such as Makhanda.
“It is our responsibility to say to a municipality that you cannot allow that thing to happen,” said spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.
Ratau said the department is the sector leader and regulator, and assists through issuing directives and supports the municipality to make sure it does not have a failing infrastructure or spillages.
The department also does not have the budget to take water in bulk to the town which, like others including Beaufort West, has struggled through a myriad of water supply-related issues.
Gift of the Givers meanwhile is on its way to Makhanda, and will be there by Tuesday.
It will bring with it hundreds of tons of bottled water, and “will assist where it can”, despite budget constraints as it helps in other projects around the Western Cape, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape.