Rivers run, but dams still low rains just in time for iSimangaliso wetlands

2016-07-28 10:17
A kudu sniffs the welcome rain on the eastern shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park at Vlei Loop on Tuesday.

A kudu sniffs the welcome rain on the eastern shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park at Vlei Loop on Tuesday. (?iSimangaliso wetland park authority)

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Pietermaritzburg - After four days of rain and snow, farmers in the Midlands are “thrilled”.

But experts have warned that the two-year drought is not over yet.

While Impendle, Underberg, Boston and surrounding areas were covered in snow with rainy and misty conditions, farmers looked on with joy as rivers started to rise and dry streams began flowing.

Underberg neighbourhood watch security co-ordinator John Pearce lives on a smallholding in Underberg and said the rain and the snow was “fantastic” for the local farmers.

“We are looking at 40 mm of rain and between four and six inches of snow over the last few days,” said Pearce.

“It is going to be good in the long run and has already made a difference.

“The snow that is melting on the Drakensberg mountains is already filling up the rivers and has really made a big difference here,” he said.

An Underberg farmer, who would not be named, said the recent weather was exactly what the farmers needed.

“The snow and the rain were all we wanted,” said the farmer.

“The Mkomazana River at the foot of Sani Pass is already three times fuller than it was, but it still remains exceptionally low. For the first time in seven months, one of the rivers on my property has started flowing into my dam again. It is all very positive.”

He said although the snow on the mountains had not created a “huge amount” of run-off, the coming of the rain and snow was still “incredible”.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said many dams in Umgeni Water’s operational area recorded moderate to heavy rainfall over the past 84 hours.

“However, at this stage there has been little impact on the levels of major dams,” said Hairchunder. “There has to be a similar amount of rainfall for at least three days before a significant difference is seen in the levels of large dams, including Hazelmere in the north of Durban.”

He said 55,3 mm of rain had been recorded at Midmar Dam, 35,6 mm at Spring Grove Dam and 34,1 mm at Mearns Dam. “The amount of rainfall received at Midmar, Mearns and Spring Grove dams is the highest recorded in the past six months.”

Harichunder said the level of Midmar had remained the same at 45,5% while Mearns Dam had gone up four percent since Friday and is now at 54,14%.

He said Spring Grove’s level had increased by 0,28% since Friday and is now 57,98%. Harichunder said the rainfall had stabilised Midmar and said there were three factors that could be affecting the unchanging levels of the dam:

• Midmar is a large dam and if some rain run-off had flowed into the dam it would be small.

• Much of the rain was absorbed into parched ground, leaving no run-off into the dam through the rivers.

• It takes at least 72 hours for the bulk of run-off to reach the dam. It is estimated that between 10% and 20% of rain reaches the river system.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

WITH only two days of water left for game in the reserve before the recent rains arrived, iSimangaliso Wetlands Wetland Park director Andrew Zaloumis said the showers had been “a huge relief”.

Zaloumis said the park had started using trucks to transport water to the thirsty game before the rains came.

“While the rain was mostly coastal, it was very timely as it recharged pans and water systems, bringing much-needed relief at the hard end of the lowest rainfall year in 65 years,” said Zaloumis.

He said the spillway from the Umfolozi and Msunduze into the Lake St Lucia Estuary was “flowing well” and water levels in the estuary have risen by 20cm.

“Fresh water continues to pour into the estuary, boosting iSimangaliso and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s efforts to restore the system,” he said.

In the last 48 hours iSimangaliso received:

• Manzengwenya 80 mm

• Charters Creek 110 mm

• Mission Rocks 102 mm

• uMkhuze 25 mm

• St Lucia 191 mm

• Kosi Bay 29 mm

• False Bay 52 mm.

SOUTH African Weather Service forecaster Bransby Bulo said that those who had been worried about the weather for the upcoming local elections next Wednesday should not be concerned.

“We are expecting blue and sunny skies over the whole of KwaZulu-Natal this Wednesday,” said Bulo.

Bulo added that there appeared to be no chance of afternoon rains on election day on August 3.

Rainfall received at other
Umgeni Water dams over
the past 84 hours:

• Nagle Dam: 59,2 mm

• Inanda Dam: 87,0 mm

• Albert Falls Dam: 52,2 mm

• Hazelmere Dam: 120 mm

• Umzinto and EJ Smith Dam: 320 mm

• Nungwane Dam: 275 mm

• Amanzimtoti: 270 mm

Read more on:    isimangaliso wetland park  |  weather  |  rain

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