The 109 western suburbs in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, which are set to run dry when Day Zero kicks in, have been thrown a temporary lifeline after Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu on Monday connected the area to the Kwanobuhle pump station.
The pump station is supplied by the Nooitgedacht Water Treatment Works, which receives its raw water from the Gariep Dam.
The Gariep Dam is situated on the borders of Free State and, therefore, not affected by the drought which is gripping Gqeberha and surrounding towns.
Mchunu's plan is not a permanent solution as the pump station has limited capacity.
The suburbs, situated in what is termed the "red zone", get their water from dams supplying western areas and constitute 40% of the city. The dams are critically low.
Following recent rains, the combined water levels of Kouga, Churchill, Impofu Dam, Groendal and Loerie Dam are now at 14.50%.
This is an increase of 2% since 16 May 22, but not enough to get the city out of the woods.
But it does buy the metro some time.
Only 2.29% of this water is usable. The 60% of the city, which incorporates mainly townships, including Motherwell, use Nooitgedacht's water.
On Monday, Mchunu officially connected the red zone areas to the Kwanobuhle pump station, which diverts water from the Nooitgedacht scheme.
A metro councillor and committee member of infrastructure and engineering, Dries Van Der Westhuizen, said: "Kwanobuhle pump station is now complete, so it is possible to transfer water from east to west, so in theory there is no need for the 109 suburbs to have to stand in queues for water."
He said Mchunu agreed that water should be shared fairly and equitably with all the residents and not just the 60% who receive water from Nooitgedacht.
"This is an issue that the DA has been continuously fighting for and will continue to fight for, as this is one metro and we are all in this together, so to discriminate on the basis of water is simply not acceptable," said Van Der Westhuizen.
He added the metro was in the process of repositioning the barges on the Impofu and Churchill Dams, to be able to again draw water from both.
Impofu and Churchill were recently decommissioned after water reached levels too low for extraction.
Van Der Westhuizen said the metro had appointed more contractors to expedite the implementation of water restrictor devices at households that use too much water.
"There has been an improvement in the number of leaks that is being repaired by the metro, thanks in large to the Business Chamber. The effort is, however, still not enough and the minister has urged greater effort. He would like to see that all leaks have been repaired by this Wednesday," said Van Der Westhuizen.
The metro urged residents to use no more than 50 litres of water per day.
The plant is expected to pump between 30 million and 60 million litres a day to augment supply.