Dept gives Cape farmers a month to install water meters



TULBAGH, Western Cape - With Day Zero looming in the Western Cape, the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation warned farmers it is their responsibility to install water meters to ensure they accurately track their water usage or face being taken to court.

The Western Cape’s agricultural sector is one of the drought-stricken province&39;s highest water users.

Several farmers have been taken to court over non-compliance with water restrictions, and officials are now checking that others stick to the recently-tightened restrictions for the sector. 

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"The sector is allowed only to use 40 percent of their available allocation... Sometimes, even though someone has a water use licence, you find that there are illegal extractions from the source, including illegal dams which has an implication of how much water is available to users downstream," said spokesperson for Water Affairs, Sputnik Ratau. 

Some water-saving measures farmers can implement include irrigating using grey water, metered boreholes and sourcing river water.

The department is also monitoring the upsurge of groundwater extraction closely.

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"We need to make sure that those boreholes, in the first place, are adequately registered and secondly, that there is no over-abstraction," said Ratau.

Usage limits on farms vary depending on what is produced and over how many hectares.

Government has given farmers a month to install water meters to ensure they comply with restrictions. 

"If not, legal action will be taken," Ratau warned.