Current rains expected to boost dire situation

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Although South Africa’s dam levels continue to lose water week-on-week due to the recent heat wave, the current rains across major parts of the country are expected to boost the dire situation in the next few days.

“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,” the Department of Water and Sanitation said.

According to the latest report released by the department, the country’s dam levels recorded an average of 57.6% water capacity that is currently available in the reservoirs, a drop by 10% compared to the same period last year.

The amount of water in the country’s reservoirs was at 18 450.5 cubic metres, slightly above half the full capacity of 32 012.1 cubic metres.

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

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

Meanwhile, as a precaution, the eThekwini Municipality 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 have claimed 80 lives and displaced 700 people in KwaZulu-Natal last month. Motorists and pedestrians have been warned against crossing flooded rivers and bridges.

The water situation in KwaZulu-Natal is expected to improve slightly in the next few days as the province is currently receiving 80% rainfall. The Midmar Dam in the Natal Midlands is expected to increase its volumes from the current 91.2% level.

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 no drop left in Middel-Letaba Dam, which is a stones throw from Tzaneen. Residents of Tikkie Line Village that depend on Middel-Letaba are currently relying on tankered water for survival.

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

Addressing a media briefing on the drought situation last week, 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,” Sisulu said at the time. –