MAPUTO, Rain in recent weeks has alleviated the severe water shortage facing the twin cities of Maputo and Matola and Boane district in southern Mozambique but, as the country moves into the dry season, there are fears that water levels in the region’s dams will once again fall to critical levels.

According to Tuesday’s issue of the daily newspaper, Noticias, the Umbeluzi pumping and treatment station, which is the main source of drinking water for Maputo and Matola, is producing between 165,000 and 170,000 cubic metres per day, at times increasing to 180,000 cubic metres per day.

The spokesperson for the Maputo Regional Water Company (AdeM), Afonso Mahumane, told the newspaper that in January the output had dropped to 100,000 cubic metres per day. However, since the last week of February, the situation improved to the point where the company has now managed to restore the daily service, albeit for only a few hours per day for customers.

AdeM had been pumping water to each neighbourhood on alternate days. This is not a major problem for people who have tanks on the roofs of their houses, which can store water for a couple of days. But for those who rely on standpipes, this is a serious issue.

However, Mahumane warned that the situation is volatile and the severe restrictions could return.

The treatment station on the Umbeluzi River is fed by the Pequenos Libombos dam. For the first few days in March, the authorities closed the floodgates on the dam completely, in order to increase the amount of water stored in the reservoir. This was possible because there was still water downstream coming from the Movene River, which could supply the station. However, that water has been depleted and, as a result, the Pequenos Libombos reservoir is now releasing 1.5 cubic metres of water a second into the Umbeluzi.

Minister of Public Works Carlos Bonete acknowledges that the water level at the Pequenos Libombos dam remains critical, with rainfall below the desired level.

Last week, Bonete warned that even when the next rainy season begins in October “there is no guarantee of rainfall that will supply the Pequenos Libombos reservoir”.