The drought has necessitated the City of Windhoek (CoW) to look at alternative water resources to sustain the livelihood of the city and all its inhabitants. The writing was on the wall and there was no time to embark on conventional planning processes as the emphasis was on avoiding a crisis. The main aim of the Emergency Water Supply project was to find enough water that could sustain 60% of the demand of the city in order to keep the city functional and ensure the livelihood of all our inhabitants. The result of the Emergency Water Supply project was such that enough underground water has been identified and developed in a very short time frame to avoid Windhoek from running dry. Following the recent inflows into dams for the central area of Namibia, the City of Windhoek has also reduced the abstraction of water from the underground resource to the absolute minimum – only to keep installed equipment and systems in place and operational. It was originally anticipated to use the increased production from the Windhoek aquifer in keeping the city alive as a data gathering process in order to gain knowledge on the performance of the aquifer – which is a very important part of the aquifer management process which would provide invaluable information for future planning and use of the aquifer. As normal abstraction from the Windhoek aquifer has now gone into “maintenance mode” as described above, the city is forced to continue with a “testing” process where certain compartments of the CoW aquifer is tested in order to obtain this vital information. As such water is still being abstracted from certain compartments of the CoW aquifer – albeit at much reduced numbers. This test programme is expected to run until October 2017. Abstraction from the CoW aquifer has in the past proven that there are some elevated levels of especially iron and manganese in borehole water which tends to discolour the product water and items it may come in contact with. Although water production has reduced, reservoirs and the water reticulation network is already saturated with elevated levels of these constituents and it may take some time before the system may be flushed clean. The national water supplier (NamWater) also experienced increased iron and manganese levels in water as a result of recent inflow into the dams. That resulted in a batch of high turbidity water being received from Von Bach in the terminal reservoir in Windhoek. The problem was solved and we expect water discolouration to reduce to normal, but these can occur from time to time during the testing period. Notwithstanding the above, the City of Windhoek has a no-compromise attitude towards water safety and we wish to confirm that there are no health risks associated with the water as disinfection levels are maintained but the effect in the product water is aesthetically unpleasant as water can occur dark in colour. Some lesser used network systems may be more affected as precipitation of iron and manganese will happen in the system. The City of Windhoek wish to confirm our commitment towards excellent service delivery and request the public to bear with us during this testing period aimed at securing our water future through efficient management of our groundwater resources.
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