Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Percy Misika, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry says if no sufficient rain is received, water bodies such as rivers, dams and groundwater aquifers could be very low or even dry up. He said the fact that Namibia has had late rains requires alternative plans to be in place in case poor rainfall is experienced during the remaining period of the rainy season. Misika revealed this in an interview with New Era when he gave an update on the water situation in the country following the recurrent droughts experienced over years. Further, he said, the water situation can be described as manageable but yet demanding in terms of ensuring availability of the required quantity and quality. Misika revealed that groundwater levels have dropped but only a few boreholes are reported to have dried up unlike the previous two to three years. Equally, he said the surface water sources (rivers) such as Kavango and Orange are quite low but the prospects look good, which is true with the dams as well. “Most of them have not reached critical points like last year,” he noted. The latest figures show that the Swakoppoort Dam is 39.4 percent full, while Von Bach Dam is 56 percent full and Omatako Dam is totally empty. This is compared to last year’s dam levels: Swakoppoort Dam was 49.97 percent full, while Von Bach Dam recorded 64.52 percent full and Omatako Dam was at 37.32 percent. Misika maintained that water is a natural resource that depends on weather patterns and prevailing climatic conditions. As such, he said it is not easy for government to predict the amount of rain the country will receive to replenish the country’s water sources. “Needless to say, government cannot definitively guarantee or tell both industries and households not to be concerned in terms of water shortages. However, government is fully committed to serve the nation as stated in the NDP5 [fifth National Developmental Plan] as well,” Misika noted. Since 2016, he said government has been working around the clock through the Cabinet Committee on Water Security and the Technical Committee of Experts to maintain security of water supply. He explained government is therefore doing everything possible to ensure that all households in Namibia as well as industries have water to survive and conduct their businesses. Moreover, he said plans are being implemented ranging from upgrading water transfer schemes such as Karst to Windhoek, and development of new schemes such as the expansion of the Windhoek aquifer (drilling of numerous boreholes in Windhoek). Other plans he mentioned include feasibility studies for major projects such as Kavango link and coastal water supply and the implementation of trans-boundary water projects such as the Kunene trans-boundary water supply project and the Stampriet groundwater project. He said government has also committed to drilling of boreholes and laying of pipelines in the northern part of the country, depending on availability of funds. Last year, the ministry’s augmentation study indicated that the only water supply options available for the Central Regions are Kavango River abstraction and desalinated water from the coast. In this regard, he said, they are still valid and the studies are still ongoing. “These are both large projects and require detailed studies because they have international implications. For Kavango link, the technical studies are completed but the environmental impact assessment studies are yet to be completed. The study for the coastal water supplies funded by KfW to the tune of €1.3 billion [approximately N$19 billion], is at its infant stage. It was advertised, the pre-qualification of bids was completed, and the next step is to request for the detailed proposals from the shortlisted bidders,” he noted. On plans to buy the Areva desalination plant for about N$3 billion, Misika said, government considers every available option. He explained the outcome of the coastal water supply study will tell whether it is a viable option or not. “Please take note that government is not aware of such a figure of N$3 billion and cannot therefore comment on it,” he reacted.
2018-01-31 09:13:09 7 months ago