Below-average August rainfall for Cape Town so far

Cape Town's rainfall for August has been way below average so far with some of the mountain areas that feed the city's storage dams getting less than a third of their normal rainfall.

Some areas have received only a quarter of their long-term average rainfall for August to date.

This comes after a dry July that drastically slowed down the recovery of the region's water storage dams - badly depleted after a crippling three-year drought - which had begun to fill up rapidly at the start of the 2018 winter rainfall season.

The total August rainfall recorded in some of the water catchment areas so far, with the long-term average in brackets, is: Theewaterskloof 20mm (76.7mm); Wemmershoek 46.1mm (154.5mm); Voelvlei 24.6mm (82.9mm); Steenbras 34mm (123.2mm) and Woodhead Dam on Table Mountain 48.1mm (213.5mm).

READ: 'Disaster' looms for farmers and workers as Eastern Cape dam could run dry in 3 months

The total level of dams that supply Cape Town and surrounding farmers was 58.8% of storage capacity on Monday. 

This is higher than the 31.9% these dams were at the same time last year, but still way below the 85% required by the national government before they will allow Cape Town and surrounding agricultural areas to do away with severe water restrictions.

Some other rainfall figures recorded in Cape Town for August so far are: Newlands 53.2mm (compared to the long-term average of 243.6mm); Tygerberg 29mm (81.2mm); Wynberg 50.2mm (192.9mm) and Brooklands 40.5mm (140.7mm).

Capetonians, farmers and the authorities were hoping that the good rainfall in early winter would continue and break the dry cycle. But, while there has been some relief, the authorities say Cape Town residents will have to stick to the limit of 50 litres of water a person a day for the near future.

Irrigation water to farmers in the area was cut by 60% late last year.

Theewaterskloof Dam, photographed on Saturday, is 43.5% full (Melanie Gosling, News24)

City of Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said some areas had received a third and others only a quarter of their long-term average rainfall for August to date.

"We need to protect the water in our dams to ensure that we continue to build a buffer for the hot summer months ahead. Until the national Department of Water and Sanitation deems it safe to begin a stepped reduction of the current water restriction levels, restrictions and the associated tariffs will remain in place," Neilson said.

He said the City was in a much stronger position that it had been at this time last year, when storage dams were only 31.9% of storage capacity, but the dry July and August to date had slowed down the rapid recovery of Cape Town's dams at the start of winter.

The city's water consumption was 519 million litres a day last week, compared to 608 million litres a day this time in 2017.

READ: Oudtshoorn water crisis: Municipality declares local state of disaster as dam outflow exceeds inflow

The City was carrying on with its water pressure management system, keeping pressure lower to reduce consumption and water lost through leaks.

Other regions in the Western Cape are also battling with low rainfall.

The municipality of Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo declared a local disaster on Friday as the dam level supplying the town was only 30% full.

And Knysna municipality sent out a text to residents on Monday with an appeal to conserve water as "the water system is under strain".

Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, said the combined level of dams in the province averaged out at 52% on Monday - higher than the 29% they were this time last year.

But dams in the Gouritz River catchment area, including large sections of the Karoo, had an average of only 18% of storage capacity. 

The provincial government was worried about the water situation in the Karoo, particularly in Oudtshoorn, and had sent engineers and other experts to assess the situation.

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