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South Africa’s dam levels continue to drop amid hopes of recovery

Dec 5, 2019
South Africa’s dam levels continue to drop amid hopes of recovery

Port Elizabeth - South Africa’s dam levels continue to lose one percent of water week-on-week, thanks to the scorching temperatures that are afflicting vast parts of the country. However, the current rains across major parts of the country are expected to boost the dire situation in the next few days

The latest report by the Department of Water and Sanitation on dam levels recorded an average 57,6% of capacity of water that is currently available in the country’s reservoirs, a drop by 10% compared to the same period last year.

"South Africans are pinning their hopes on the current heavy rains that have been pouring since last Wednesday and are expected to subside by the weekend," said Department of Water and Sanitation spokesprson, Sputnik Ratau.

"Water that is stored in the country’s reservoirs was calculated at 18 450,5 cubic metres, slightly above half the full capacity of 32 012,1 cubic metres.

"However, hydrologists are hopeful that the current levels will improve drastically when the above-average (heavy) rains begin to drench most parts of South Africa by mid-December.

"They are predicting that some regions will be flooded from the heavy rains, a situation that can be untenable."

Ratau said that as a precaution, eThekwini Metro Council in KwaZulu-Natal has started to warn communities that live on the banks of rivers to move to safer areas to avoid being flooded.

"Floods, thunderstorms and tornadoes claimed the lives of 80 people while 700 were displaced in the province last month. As a result, motorists and pedestrians were warned against crossing flooded rivers and bridges."

Last week, the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, visited Butterworth in the Eastern Cape to assess the amount of damage that has been caused by the drought in the town.

Addressing a media briefing on the drought situation on Tuesday 3rd November, Minister Sisulu said the drought phenomenon had highlighted “the need for a more elaborate facility that can be applied to consistently guide management of water supply and mitigation against risks due to drought.

“We cannot afford to ignore the impact of climate change, of growing populations and changing economic activities; all these make the planning of our long term water management more difficult. The Master Plan that we launched last week serves as the plan to ensure the security of water supply in the country,” Sisulu said.

Announcing her department’s intervention, she said the department will, among others:

  • Implement drought operating rules,
  • Institute borehole drilling and/or rehabilitation,
  • Water tankering from available sources,
  • Rainwater and fog harvesting,
  • Protection and use of springs,
  • Cloud seeding,
  • Evaporation suppression,
  • Desalination of brackish groundwater or sea water and
  • Effluent treatment and re-use.

Ratau said that the water situation in Mopani District in Limpopo continues to be a source of concern as the Tzaneen Dam slid to 5,1% this week.

"There is virtually no drop left in Middel-Letaba Dam, a stone’s throw from Tzaneen, where the water level dropped to 2,8%. Residents of Tikkie Line Village that depend on Middel-Letaba now rely on tankered water for survival."

He added that the water situation in KwaZulu-Natal is expected to improve slightly in the next few days as the province is currently receiving 80% rainfall. Midmar Dam in the Natal Midlands is expected to increase its volumes from the current 91,2% level.

"Despite the current rainfall, the department would like to warn South Africans against complacency and it encourages citizens to continue with saving water."

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