10 August 2017

South Africa: Western Cape Heavy Rains Bring Some Relief

Photo: Tami Hultman/allAfrica
Theewaterskloof Dam on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp close to Cape Town (file photo).

The Department of Water and Sanitation says Western Cape farmers can only hope for more rains during this rainy season to enable them to harvest more crops before the rains begin to wane at the end of October.

A weekly report published by the department this week stated that last week's heavy rains in the Western Cape brought some relief to locals, as dam levels increased from 27.3% to 28.2%, raising water storage in the province to 475.5 cubic metres.

"Sporadic drizzles continued to pound Cape Town and outlying areas on Tuesday and Wednesday, raising hopes that the situation may improve in the next few days," the report said.

Almost the entire Western Cape province is reeling from severe drought conditions and municipalities have introduced severe water restrictions in order to cope with the dry conditions.

The drought has forced the City of Cape Town to introduce Level 4 water restrictions as a precautionary measure against a total disaster.

"The current water that is available in storage in the province is far less than half the amount that is stored under normal circumstances," the report noted.

Dam levels better than last year

Nationally, at 69.1%, the situation of dam levels is better than it was last year, which stood at 53.2%.

With the rainy season due to start inland in two months, the department said there is hope that dam levels will increase substantially and that the inner parts of the country may be headed for a bumper season.

According to the report, the situation is not that rosy in Eastern Cape, as dam levels dropped from 56.2% last week to 56.1%.

The department raised concerns regarding the situation in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where rivers are running almost empty and stringent water restrictions have been introduced by the municipality in order to cope with the situation.

Dam levels in the province have dropped by 10% from 66.5% in the same period last year to 56.1%.

The department said it hoped that the forthcoming rainy season will deliver the much needed water and dam levels are expected to return to normal.

In Gauteng, the Vaal Dam is fluctuating between 92% and 93% as it continues to receive water from Vaal River which has 14 tributaries.

The dam level at the Vaal is further stabilised by water flowing from Katse and Polihali dams in Lesotho, which is part of an agreement between South Africa and the Mountain Kingdom.

Currently, the dam rates among the highest levels and most stable water resources in the country.

Inanda Dam in KwaZulu-Natal has the highest level with 109.6% water, followed by Boegoeberg Dam in Northern Cape at 105.2%. Inanda and Boegoeberg are supplied by Umgeni and Orange rivers, respectively.

However, despite persistent rains along the coastal belt of KwaZulu-Natal, Hazelmere Dam, which receives its supply from Mdloti River, is reportedly to be at a disappointing 55.1%.

Hazelmere supplies eThekwini and the outlying towns including Zimbali, Ballito and Tongaat on the north coast. The Driel Barrage north of Durban is bursting at seams at 102.6%.

The province has a subtotal of 82.7% of water stored in dams and reservoirs having dropped from 83.1% last week.

Free State, North West and Northern Cape have a combined rate of 86.4% of water stored in their reservoirs and dams.

North West alone boasts four dams -- Elandskuil, Klipdrift, Potchefstroom and Johan Neser -- whose levels are an average 100% each.

Limpopo and Mpumalanga have a combined dam level of 72.6%, having dropped from 72.8% last week.

Five of Limpopo's dams, including Magoebaskloof (Tzaneen), Hans Merensky (Phalaborwa), Vergelegen, Ramadiepa and Ebenezer have an astonishing 100% average each.

Mpumalanga has an equal number of dams, Blyderivierpoort, Buffelskloof, Tonteldoos and Witbank whose average level is 100%.

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