3 September 2018

South Africa: Dam Levels Rise to Move Out of the City's Danger Zone for First Time in Two Years

Photo: Masixole Feni/GroundUp
Theewaterskloof Dam on 7 June 2016 (file photo).

Cape Town's supply dams have just squeezed out of the City's defined "danger zone" as the recent rains have raised the combined water level to 65.9% of storage capacity.

The end of the defined "danger zone" is when the dam level rises above 65% at the end of the rainy season.

The City of Cape Town hopes this will persuade the national Department of Water and Sanitation to ease up on the severe water restrictions. The department is considering the matter.

This is the highest the dam levels have been at this time of year in two years.

But the City has warned that there is no way Cape Town can return to its former water consumption patterns without risking over-using water supply.

August rainfall was below the long-term average at all the City's recording stations.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said on Monday: "We cannot return to a business-as-usual attitude to water without risking water security in the years to come. We have managed to steer ourselves away from disaster, but must now start considering how best to manage our recovery."

He warned that rainfall was unpredictable, and that meant Cape Town had to diversify its water supply to ensure there was enough water. Capetonians would have to make their current water-saving behaviour permanent.

"Although much work is planned over the next few years to augment the City's water supply and continue to create awareness about water conservation, we must remember that we live in a region with a semi-arid climate. At the moment, we still rely on our dams to provide most of our water. Given the unpredictable nature of our rainfall, it is imperative that we diversify our supply for the future, and entrench the behaviour," Neilson said.

At this time in 2017, Cape Town's combined dam level was 35.1% of storage capacity; 60.6% in 2016; 73.9% in 2015 and 102% in 2014.

The level in the three bigger dams on Monday was: Berg River dam 96.7%; Voelvlei 72.7% and Theewaterskloof 49%.

The City's rainfall records for August are below average at all recording stations - as were those in July.

The total rainfall for August in Wynberg was 151mm, compared to the long-term average of 192mm; Newlands 200mm (long-term average of 243mm); Steenbras 96mm (123mm);Theewaterskloof 67mm (76mm); Voelvlei 65mm (82mm) and Wemmershoek 123 (154mm).

Source: News24

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