17 September 2018

South Africa: Dam Levels Hit the 70 Percent Mark for the First Time Since 2015

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp
Theewaterskloof Dam on 24 April 2018.

Cape Town's dam levels hit the 70% mark on Monday for the first time since 2015.

This week's cold front and light rainfalls are expected to push the level a little higher by the end of the week.

But the bad news is that the total rainfall for September so far is less than half of the average.

September is the last month of the winter rainfall season, or the end of the hydrological year.

This month's low rainfall comes after lower than average rainfall for each of the winter months this year.

Last year Cape Town's combined dam levels were 37.5%, in 2016 they were 61.7%, in 2015 they were 74.2% and 100% in 2014.

Water levels on Monday in the small dams were: Steenbras Upper (95.8%); Steenbras Lower (87.5%) and Wemmershoek (90%).

The levels of the two medium-sized dams are: Berg River (97.6%) and Voelvlei (83.7%).

The biggest dam, Theewaterskloof, is 52.5% full. Theewaterskloof holds just over half of all the water stored in the six dams when they are full.

This time in 2017 Theewaterskloof was 28.7% full; 53.2% in 2016; 76.1% in 2015 and 100.4% in 2014.

Restrictions to be eased to 70 litres per day, per person

The City of Cape Town reports that Capetonians used less water last week, reducing total consumption from an average of 526 million litres a day to 505 million litres.

This is 55 million litres more than the required 450 million litres a day on level 6B restrictions, but is only five million litres more than the revised target of 500 million litres a day that the less stringent level 5 water restrictions require.

The new restrictions will come into effect on October 1.

The City has asked residents to continue saving water to ensure the dams recover enough to get residents through the dry summer.

The easing of water restrictions from the stringent 50 litres a person a day will be eased to allow 70 litres a person a day on level 5 restrictions from next month.

While some say it is too soon to relax water restrictions, given that the dry summer months lie ahead, leaders of business and industry have welcomed the move, saying it would restore confidence in Cape Town as a destination for tourism and investment.

The Department of Water and Sanitation imposed a 45% cut on water consumption for Cape Town in January after the third consecutive drought year, and a 60% cut to agriculture that used the same storage dams for irrigation.

The department will not revise these restrictions until it has assessed the water situation in October, once the winter rains have ended. But local agriculture is calling on government to give the sector some indication of what the restrictions are likely to be this summer, so it can plan how to repair the damage caused by the drought and the drastic cuts in irrigation allowance.

Source: News24

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