Small dams built around the Gaborone Dam catchment area have not contributed to the current dryness of the dam, rather they have helped reduce siltation at the facility.
The Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR), Kitso Mokaila, said contrary to concerns that the dams have interrupted the inflow of the dam, insufficient rains were to blame instead.
Residents of Tlokweng heard this yesterday in a Kgotla meeting addressed by Mokaila. Residents had complained that the many dams in the Gaborone Dam inflow route had left multitudes without water and only benefitted a few individuals.
“All the dams built after the Gaborone Dam was constructed are against the law. They are badly affecting the multitudes as only a few are benefiting from them and these dams must be destroyed,” one resident opined.
However, Mokaila maintained that the Gaborone Dam has gained much more from these facilities.
“These dams have helped us in terms of gathering sand. As we speak there is only five percent silt in the Gaborone Dam which is quite little compared to other dams which are not surrounded by any dams. We don’t need to spend a lot of money removing silt from Gaborone Dam,” he said.
He added that if at all those dams had any bearing on Gaborone Dam, that would have been an issue of national interest. Therefore, his ministry would have long removed them.
“We need to realise that these dams have always been there in the past seven or so years when we were receiving good rains but now that rainfall has decreased, they have become a problem,” said Mokaila.
Early this year, the then permanent secretary in MMEWR, Boikobo Paya, told South East District full council that the inflow of water into Gaborone Dam was affected by, among others, numerous dams in the greater Gaborone.
Paya said there were about 203 small dams identified in the greater Gaborone catchment area, which affected water flow into Gaborone dam. He said all the dams had a capacity of 26 million cubic metres, which resulted in a 30% decline in the yields of Gaborone Dam.
Out of the 26 million cubic metres, Ngotwane Dam in South Africa constituted about 19 million cubic metres.
“In simple mathematics, 26 million cubic metres out of 144 million cubic metres capacity of the Gaborone Dam would translate into 18% of the total runoff,” said Paya. Furthermore, he said small dams in Botswana contributed five percent while South African dams contributed 13% of water lost to Gaborone Dam.
He added that if it were not for the small dams, the capacity of Gaborone Dam could have been at 25%. “There is no need for the new dams to be built in the greater Gaborone catchment area,” he added.
Currently the Greater Gaborone area receives 80 million cubic metres against its total demand of 145 million cubic metres. This has seen dwellers resorting to purchasing water from all sorts of sources, most of whose value has come under the microscope.
“We are not sure whether the quality and value of this water is appropriate for human consumption. It is against this backdrop that government will establish the Botswana Energy and Water Regulation Authority,” said Mokaila.
The body will register and verify all who trade in the water sector to ensure that hygienic standards are met. Moreover, the regulatory authority will also control prices as the water crisis has led to exuberant charges, for instance 25 litres sold at P20.
The Water Utilities Corporation currently sells 1,000 litres at P2, while the first 5,000 litres of water are sold at P10.