Dam levels low, souse water sparingly

2010-12-07 00:00

DESPITE the recent good rains, Umgeni Water has urged the public to be mindful when using water as the generally poor rainfall this season coupled with low dam levels has raised concerns that the situation could develop into a crisis by next year.

KwaZulu-Natal has been experiencing one of its worst droughts in years.

Research on water levels done by Umgeni Water shows that the rains over the past few weeks have resulted in an increase in water levels at small dams, but there has been no improvement in the big dams.

Figures released by the South African Weather Service show that the rainfall has continually improved over the past months. King Shaka Airport recorded 76,6 millilitres in October, 85,8 in November and 64,2 in December to date.

However, farming communities already severely affected by the drought have been told to use less of their water quotas.

Brad Price, a dairy farmer in Kamberg, said last week farmers received a directive that they can use only up to 80% of their water quota from the river.

“The reason is that more water is now being pumped to supply the inner city area and towns, so farmers now have to cut back on their water usage.”

Price said there are fears that if the dry weather continues, they will be faced with further cuts of up to 50%, which could be crushing for the industry.

“We are already at least a month behind in terms of production, and if we face more cut the situations could become serious.”

Robin Barnsley, president of the KwaZulu Natal Agricultural Union, echoed Price’s fears that further water restrictions will come into force. “This could deal a crushing blow to the agricultural industry, especially the poultry and dairy farming business. That could result in increases in food costs, which is not good for the farmer or the consumer.”

A spokesperson for Umgeni Water, Shami Harichunder, said the situation has not yet reached extreme levels, which would see water restrictions being put in place.

“It is highly unlikely that any area of the areas supplied by Umgeni Water will face water shortages.”

He urged residents to be sparing in their use of water.

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