The Western Cape government is set to ask its national counterparts to classify a provincial disaster because of the ongoing drought plaguing the region.

The move comes as looming water shortages, low dam levels and predictions of a dry summer, threatens to cripple the agricultural sector in several municipalities. Authorities have been closely monitoring the situation across the province, and at least four municipalities have implemented water restrictions as precautionary measures.

Local government, environmental affairs and development planning MEC, Anton Bredell, said an assessment of the water situation in the province was completed last week. He said the department was ready to move ahead with an official request and would approach the Western Cape Provincial cabinet in this regard.

“We have been busy doing assessments of the situation and these assessments were only completed on Friday. The plan is to go to the national disaster management authorities with a request for a provincial disaster declaration that will also include the Swartland area.”

Bredell said the restrictions imposed on the West Coast and in the Karoo were precautionary by nature. He added that the decision to issue water restrictions was made at municipal level.

“Given the pressure on water resources in the Western Cape, some municipalities have started to implement water restrictions. Witzenberg local municipality immediately moved to implement restrictions in Tulbagh due to the low water level in their storage dam.”

The town’s dam is 32% full. The Central Karoo District has already rolled out a water conservation campaign covering its whole area, while the Matzikama local municipality has applied water restrictions in all its towns, including Klawer, Vredendal, Vanrhynsdorp and Lutzville.

In the Cederberg local municipality, water restrictions in Clanwilliams have been imposed since April.

Bredell warned that the water system was under pressure and was expected to come under additional pressure over the December holiday season when there will be an influx of visitors to the coastal areas.