Concern as dams’ water levels remain low despite recent rainfall

2014-12-31 00:00

DESPITE recent rains across KwaZulu-Natal, many dams have shown only slight signs of recovery, with Hazelmere Dam now 38% full.

The low levels at Hazelmere, which supplies areas such as Ballito, Verulam and Seatides, has resulted in water cuts in the past weeks owing to consumption and evaporation caused by high temperatures.

“The situation relating to Hazelmere still remains of concern,” said Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder.

“There has been no significant rainfall in the Hazelmere system to reverse this trend. The Hazelmere area and its catchment are, in effect, presently in a state of drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon.”

Harichunder said a committee, consisting of Umgeni and Water Services Authorities, has been formed to monitor and manage the effects of the prevailing drought and meets fortnightly to take decisions relating the management of water resources.

“The shortfall of 16% from the ­Hazelmere Waterworks supply figures can be attributed to domestic usage, ­de-sludging of the clarifiers and backwashing of the filters.”

He said there are no immediate concerns over the Mgeni system that supplies the Greater eThekwini region, the Midlands, uMgungundlovu and the north of Ugu.

“There is sufficient water available to meet current demands, however, good rainfall will certainly be welcomed,” Harichunder said, adding that Midmar Dam (69,25%) has seen over one percent improvement from the Christmas week.

Umzinto and Mearns are the only dams full to capacity with 100,28% and 100,53% respectively. The levels of the EJ Smith and Nungwane dams are also rising steadily.

The Ixopo system (Ixopo Dam and borehole) has also shown signs of slight recovery. The level of the Ixopo Dam, currently on 52,79%, has improved compared to a month ago when its level was in the 40 to 45% range.

Inanda, Nagle and Spring Grove dams are over 80%, with Albert Falls at 73%.

Harichunder said the average demand volumes before the festive season holidays compared to the current period are quite close.

“We continue to urge consumers to use water sparingly and to please adhere to the request to cut consumption by 30%.”

Weather experts say good rainfall is only expected towards the end of ­January.

“It must be noted that the levels of all the dams, barring Umzinto, are below the levels they had been at a year ago. This is due to below-average rainfall that has occurred for much of 2014, including spring and summer months.”

• khanyisani.dlomo@witness.coza

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