10 April 2018

South Africa: Vaal Dam Spilling - Drought, What Drought?

Photo: Michael Gundelfinger/Wikimedia Commons
The Vaal Dam (file photo).

With recent rains, the drought of 2014 to 2017, for most of us, is all but forgotten. But for hydrologists a drought is only over when the whole system is flush. Even then, the operation of the system should ensure that users are optimally protected when the next drought comes round again.

The Vaal River System is complex: the Vaal Dam is augmented from upstream dams such as Sterkfontein (in turn fed from the Thukela through the Drakensberg Hydropower Project) and the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) with its two large dams, Katse and Mohale. Currently the Sterkfontein Dam is full, but this is not the case with the Katse and Mohale dams, respectively 66% and only 36% full. This means the system is not flush - there is still space in the LHWP to store 1,000-million cubic meters of water, the equivalent of three Loskop dams.

Sophisticated computer models are used to operate complex water systems in order to maximise their effectiveness. It is, however, not necessary to do such an exercise to conclude that upper dams generally should remain as full as possible and for as long as possible. Withdrawal of water should be concentrated on lower dams,...

South Africa

Khayelitsha Residents Install Their Own Communal Taps

Residents of Siyahlala informal settlement, Khayelitsha, have started to install their own water pipes. Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2018 Daily Maverick. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.