water shutdown ethekwini municipality

eThekwini Municipality areas to face 24-hour water shutdown on Tuesday. Image: Adobe Stock

Nelson Mandela Bay is headed towards ‘Day Zero’ as dam levels plummet

Drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay is expected to run out of water by 1 July. Day Zero is fast approaching as dam levels continue to drop.

water shutdown ethekwini municipality

eThekwini Municipality areas to face 24-hour water shutdown on Tuesday. Image: Adobe Stock

The water crisis in Nelson Mandela Bay is so dire that taps are expected to run dry from 1 July.

Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Nqaba Bhanga said on Wednesday, 28 April, dam levels continues to drop alarmingly. “The greatest risk to the Metro currently is that our dam levels continue to plummet and are currently sitting at just 13%.”


With no clear indication of rain in the near future it is estimated that various areas in Nelson Mandela Bay will run dry as water levels drop too low to extract water.

“Roughly half of the water consumed in the Metro comes from our dams, and should we no longer be able to extract water from the dams, certain areas across the Metro will experience major water disruptions,” said Bhanga.

If consumption is not cut to 250 mega litres per day, “Day Zero” for areas such as Kwanobuhle and St. Albans will be as soon as July.

With the current trajectory of water usage the following projected timelines of dams running dry will be;

  • 1 July – Kouga Dam will run dry
  • 1 August – Churchill Dam will run dry
  • 1 October – Impofu Dam will run dry 
  • 1 December – Groendal Dam will run dry


Bhanga added that critical water projects grinded to a halt two years ago during the previous ANC-led metro.

“It was therefore with shock and dismay that, when we returned to govern the Metro in December last year, we discovered that the previous ANC-led coalition of corruption had let critical water projects grind to a halt over the past two years. Even when they were given conditional grants by national government for drought mitigation measures, totalling R183 million, they failed to spend it and national treasury took it back!”

The poor state of the Metro’s bulk infrastructure is a contributing factor to ‘Day Zero’. Bhanga said the municipality is prioritising the repair and maintenance thereof.

“This is no small task, as resources are limited, but we understand exactly how critical it is that we address these issues.”


Bhanga added that one of the municipality’s top priorities are addressing the multitude of leaks across the Metro. 

Through these interventions, real water losses have dropped from 39% in June 2020 to 29.4% in 28 February 2021.

“This is an ongoing challenge due to aging infrastructure. Often as one leak is repaired, another takes its place. The municipality is identifying aging infrastructure that needs to be replaced, but this will take time,” he said.

READ: Alternative water sources set for drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay