Bleak news for KZN dams

2016-07-06 06:00

SEVERAL KwaZulu-Natal dams could dry up early next year, bulk water supplier Umgeni Water said on Monday.

The first predicted to reach “failure” level were the Hazelmere and Ixopo dams, in February 2017, spokesperson Shami Harichunder said.

They would be followed by the Albert Falls and Nagle dams in April 2017, the Midmar dam in May 2017, and the Inanda dam in December that year.

“Failure is when a dam becomes dry and all that is left is silt,” Harichunder said.

The consistent lack of rainfall in KwaZulu-Natal prompted Umgeni Water to release the predictions for dams in its jurisdiction.

No increase in restrictions

Harichunder said a joint operations committee resolved to keep the current water restrictions in place.

The situation would be reviewed fortnightly. If restrictions needed to be increased, an application would be made to the Department of Water and Sanitation.

“Water savings have become imperative. To secure water resources in the future, consumer behaviour has to change now.”

Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal had to cut their water use by 15%. The committee had considered increasing this to 25%, but decided against it because of water savings already achieved.

Mandatory water restrictions of 50% were already in place in the Hazelmere system, which supplied the north of eThekwini and iLembe; and the Ixopo system, which supplied Ixopo and surrounds.

The Hazelmere and Ixopo dams were being supported by water transfer through emergency schemes constructed in mid-2015.

Decreasing dam levels

According to Harichunder, the Albert Falls dam was of a serious concern because it received water from the Midmar dam.

Because of the low level of Midmar, releasing water from it would not make a significant difference to Albert Falls. The Albert Falls dam in turn supplied the Nagle dam.

These level of these dams, with the exception of Spring Grove and Mearns dams, fell by 0.5% weekly, Harichunder said.

The level of the Spring Grove and Mearns dams was falling 3% weekly.

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