retoria – As South Africa grapples with water shortages amidst a crippling drought, the Tshwane Metro on Tuesday announced water restrictions and appealed to residents to use the scarce resources sparingly.

“We are at a situation where generally countrywide the dams and the water system are at a low level, lower than they have been for many years, particularly the Vaal River system which includes the Lesotho Highlands, Sterkfontein Dam and the Vaal Dam. That is where we get over 80 percent of our water from,” Tshwane MMC for infrastructure, Darryl Moss, told reporters at a briefing in Pretoria.

“That system is currently very low. The national department of water and sanitation has stated that drawing water from the Vaal River system should be limited. That is to protect the water resource. The limitation is that effectively in terms of the city’s use, we have to reduce our water use by 15 percent.”

Moss said that water restrictions across Tshwane had been introduced with immediate effect as major suppliers had already cut water supply to South Africa’s capital city.

“We don’t have time to waste debating the issues. We, as the city, are obliged to meet this obligation and we’re obliged to reduce our water consumption by 15 percent. In fact, Rand Water has already curtailed our water supply by 15 percent. We receive 72 percent of our water from Rand Water, so this makes a huge impact on the amount of water we have available,” said Moss.

“On top of the water restrictions from Rand Water, we also have a situation where it’s been very hot in the last couple of weeks so people are using more water. So now we’re getting less water and we’re using more water. That has added to the problems.”

Under the circumstances, Moss said watering and irrigation of gardens with hosepipes or sprinklers was now only allowed between 6pm and 6am.

“No watering with hosepipes and irrigation is to be done between 6 o’clock in the morning and 6 o’clock in the evening. Washing of vehicles with hosepipes is not allowed. We’re saving water and we need to enforce this. On top of that, filling swimming pools is not to be done without special permission,” said Moss.

“These restrictions apply immediately. We’re really asking that the residents of this city, both domestic, industrial and business, to get behind us in our attempt to cut our water usage by 15 percent. We’re asking you to look seriously at how you use water and try to cut back.”

Moss said if Tshwane residents did not cut their water usage by the set 15 percent, further restrictions could be implemented.

The department of water and sanitation’s Steven Notoane said it was, however, “highly unlikely that we get to water shedding stages”.

“We are managing our system, we’re monitoring our water reservoir levels in communication with Rand Water, regarding the water supply. We have a system in place that will prevent us from going to the water shedding stage,” said Notoane.

Water shedding is when water is blocked from all taps at certain times of the day.

Notoane also urged Tshwane residents to abide by the municipal by-laws in a bid to conserve water.