Still no sign of precious rain

2010-09-29 00:00

AT least one week of continual rain is needed to lessen the impact of the drought being experienced in the KwaZulu-Natal and generally across South Africa, but such a downpour is not expected soon, says the South African Weather Service.

Over the past two months, abnormally dry weather has been experienced, leading to the decline of water levels in dams and concerns over major losses in the farming industry during the planting season.

A forecaster at the Durban Weather Office said KZN is experiencing abnormally dry conditions.

“Normally, the rains begin in August and this year the weather has been very dry.”

“At least a week’s downpour is needed to lessen the drought impact.

“However, on our system there is nothing indicating that kind of downpour; the best it shows is that there will be a 30% chance of rain this coming weekend,” she continued.

Shami Harichunder, the corporate stakeholder manager at Umgeni Water, said the drought has led to declining water levels in various dams.

“Dam levels have been getting progressively lower as a result of the dry winter season, while at the same time Umgeni Water has been drawing water for supply purposes.

“The rainfall season only starts in September, so up to this point the dam levels are as expected, although slightly lower than at the same time in the previous few years. The situation will obviously not improve if adequate rains do not come soon,” he continued.

Harichunder said Umgeni Water is working with municipalities and the Department of Water Affairs to raise awareness and conduct water saving campaigns.

“The real concern comes at the end of the rainy season [April] if the dam levels have not recovered to their full supply levels,” he said.

“At present there is still the rainy season for the dams to recover.

Nevertheless, it would be important for consumers to use water sparingly at this point in time until the dam levels rise again.”

The farming sector has also expressed concern about the dry conditions.

Robin Barnsley, president of KwaNalu, said that although farmers would only be able to quantify their losses over the coming weeks, the industry is struggling in the drought.

“One of the major problems was that there were no rains in the May/ April period leading up to the planting season, which has left the lands very dry.”

Barnsley said the stakeholders are already in negotiations with the government to find a way to deal with the situation, which could lead to increases in food prices.

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