Dam levels still low after good downpours

2017-05-16 14:01
Pedestrians leap over a large puddle outside the city hall yesterday. The weather looks a lot cheerier heading towards the end of the week with highs of 26 and clear skies on the weekend.

Pedestrians leap over a large puddle outside the city hall yesterday. The weather looks a lot cheerier heading towards the end of the week with highs of 26 and clear skies on the weekend. (Ian Carbutt)

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The cold weather brought good rains this weekend, but still not enough to fill the dams.

South African Weather Services forecaster Thandiwe Gumede said snow fell in the western parts of KZN over the weekend, including Giants Castle, Champagne Castle and some areas in the Underberg district.

“The areas which were affected by snow are currently overcast making it very difficult for our satellite to see if the snow is still there or if it is melting,” she said.

Gumede said there is a 30% chance of rainfall in coastal areas on Tuesday, but none expected in the interior, and none anywhere on Wednesday.

“The temperatures will definitely improve when the rainfall stops, but people can expect low temperatures because we are approaching the winter season.”

Anne Young of the Sani Mountain Lodge at Sani Pass said the roads in the area had cleared late on Monday, following the heavy snowfall that left many people stranded.

“At the weekend the snow was about 80 cm to 100 cm deep and it was only late on Monday [yesterday] that cars managed to drive through the snow.

“Many of our guests were stuck down Sani Pass and some were stuck here at the lodge,” said Young.

Young said it was raining on Monday and the snow was slowly melting away.

“The weather is currently wet and extremely cold here,” she said.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said despite the torrential rainfall in many parts of the Midlands, the Umgeni Water system still remained under stress, as it did not benefit to any significant degree from weekend rainfall. Harichunder said the amount of rainfall received at Midmar and Albert Falls was disappointing, as these dams require significant amounts of rain to lift them out of their situation of stress, caused by below-average rainfall over a four-year period.

“Of concern to Umgeni Water is the consistently low level of Albert Falls, which is the largest dam in the Umgeni Water operational area.

“This dam is dependent, in part, on Midmar to rise sharply. Midmar has to overflow for the level of Albert Falls to increase or there has to be significant amounts of rainfall in its catchment,” said Harichunder.

Currently there are mandatory 15% water restrictions in areas that receive water from the Umgeni system. These areas are uMgungundlovu, Pietermaritzburg and Durban (except Verulam, Waterloo, Sea Tides and Tongaat) and these restrictions will remain until the situation improves.

Harichunder said: “Water restrictions are always accompanied by a degree of hardship, but they are necessary to make limited water resources last until the next good rains.”

KZN MEC for Transport Mxolisi Kaunda issued a statement urging motorists to be vigilant and patient as they drive and use roads when it is wet or there is snow.

Dam levels

Levels of dams in the Mgeni system as at Monday, 15th May 2017:

•Midmar = 79,08% (an increase of 0,41% from Friday)

•Albert Falls = 33,5% (an increase of 0,1% from Sunday, May14)

•Spring Grove = 85,86% (an increase of 0,13% from Friday)

•Mearns= 89,99 % (increase of 8,91% since Friday)

•Nagle = 73, 4% (a 5,79% over the past six days)

•Inanda = 65,3% (increase of 0,5% over six days)

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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