Vaal River flood warning issued

2011-01-06 14:30

The Emfuleni Municipality in Gauteng and the Mpumalanga province issued flood warnings today after main rivers began overflowing.

Heavy rains resulted in overflowing on the Vaal river in Emfuleni, the Gariep, Bloemhof and Vanderkloof dams, as well as the Crocodile (Mgwenya) river in Mpumalanga.

“Most houses near the Barrage sluice gates [Vaal] are under water and a rescue team is on standby,” said Emfuleni spokesperson Klaas Mofomme.

“The river flow through the sluice gates is currently three million litres per second.”

More than 40 families had already been evacuated.

Emfuleni includes two main towns – Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark – and a number of townships including Sharpeville, Evaton, Sebokeng, Bophelong and Boipatong.

“The water levels downstream of Vaal Dam are expected to reach levels last seen during the flood of 1996,” water affairs spokesperson Linda Page said.

The Vaal dam is currently 108% full with 17 flood gates expected to be open by 2pm on Thursday.
The outflow was expected to reach 2550 cubic metres per second.

“With this release the dam could reach a capacity of 111% during the weekend,” she said.

Page said the capacity of the Bloemhof dam was currently 98% with the outflow expected to increase substantially today to 2800 cubic metres per second by 6pm.

The Gariep dam capacity was 113% while the Vanderkloof dam was 107%.

The outflow was due to increase considerably by Sunday.

The flow in the Lower Orange River was around 5?200 cubic metres per second.

A number of roads around Three Rivers, Vereeniging were closed due to the flooding.

These included Brandmuller, Golf, Klip River, and General Hertzog roads.

Houtkop road, commonly known as Potchestroom/Vereeniging road, was the only accessible street.

The municipality urged residents to avoid the affected areas.

“Motorists are advised not to underestimate the strength of the water in the flooded areas but rather take alternative routes,” said Mofomme.

Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa was scheduled to visit the Vaal dam today to see how the level was being controlled.

Residents living along the Crocodile (Mgwenya) river in Mpumalanga were also urged to stay alert as the river flow had increased.

Provincial co-operative governance spokesperson Simphiwe Kunene said the communities of Kanyamazane, Matsulu and Nkomazi must be on full alert.

“The Kwena dam that feeds the Crocodile River is more than 105% full and already overflowing into the river.”

He said it had increased the already high river flow.

Those living downstream near the Elands river were also warned.

“The continued rains have resulted in an increase of dam and river levels thus making small streams very dangerous,” said Kunene.

“Parents are urged to warn children not to play next to streams and rivers.”

Weather patterns indicated that rains would continue for the next few days.

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