Free State fares well through dry winter

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Despite the dry winter, the Free State province continues to store the most volumes of water in its reservoirs compared to other provinces in the country.

The latest weekly dam levels report by the Department of Water and Sanitation indicates that the province is nearing its full supply capacity of 13 235 cubic metres, 2 000 cubic metres short of reaching its full capacity.

“Statistically, Free State currently accounts for half of South Africa’s water in reservoirs. The province is home to some of the biggest dams in the country. Sterkfontein Dam is regarded as the reserve bank of water, while Gariep Dam is the biggest In South Africa,” the department said.

Dam levels in the Western Cape have also risen dramatically to just above 70%, and are expected to increase higher with the consistency of the rainfall.

The report highlighted that in the past month alone, the dam levels in the province increased by 20%.

This is due to the heavy winter rains that started three months ago in the province.

The wet weather is a sharp contrast to last year’s water situation when Western Cape was plunged into a devastating drought that destroyed livestock and crops, and took the economy to its brink.

Four years ago, vast parts of the country were gripped by severe drought conditions that forced municipalities to impose stringent water restrictions to cope with the situation.

Dam levels in Mpumalanga have remained stable at 69%, while the water situation in parts of the Eastern Cape remains a concern as dam levels drop week-on-week.

The dam levels in Eastern Cape has dropped from last week’s 57.1% to 56.9% this week.

According to a report, there is not a drop of water in Bonkolo Dam, while residents of Butterworth are faced with challenges after Gcuwa Dam ran dry last week.

The department also noted that dysfunctional sewerages are exacerbating the problem in Cradock, where raw sewage is reportedly flowing in the streets.

Recently, the department took the Chris Hani District Municipality to court for failure to stop raw sewage from flowing into the Great Fish River. 

Possible water restrictions in NC

 Despite the fact that the Northern Cape has stored 121.2% of water for basic use, vast parts of the province are experiencing debilitating drought spells as a result of insufficient rainfall in the past four years.

According to the report, farmers are losing livestock in large numbers because of extremely hot conditions in areas including Carnavon and Vosburg.

“Conditions in the Brandvlei, Loeriesfontein, Pofadder and Granaatkolk regions are equally dismal. Should the situation persist over the next two months, municipalities will be forced to impose stringent water restrictions to control the situation,” the department said.

Intensive campaign in Tzaneen 

Meanwhile, the department has embarked on an intensive campaign to explain the water situation in Tzaneen, Limpopo, where water levels have dropped dramatically following construction to raise the local dam wall.

The Tzaneen Dam Raising Project has been broken down into three stages, including the stockpiling, demolishing and raising of the dam wall.

“Officials from the department recently met with various stakeholders, including communities, farmers and business people to explain progress made in the construction of the dam wall,” the department said. –