Below average rains in KZN still a concern – Umgeni Water

2016-01-14 17:20

Durban – One of the major bulk water suppliers in KwaZulu-Natal said it was concerned with the amount of rainfall received in the Mgeni system catchments. 

Despite recent rains in the province, Umgeni Water officials warned that rainfall was still below a 20-year average.

Spokesperson Shami Harichunder said officials at the bulk water supplier were concerned with dam levels.

The Mgeni system comprises Midmar Dam, Spring Grove Dam and Mearns Dam, as part of the Upper Mgeni. In the Lower Mgeni there is Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam.

The Upper and Lower Mgeni supplies water to most of eThekwini, uMgungundlovu District, Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) and north of Ugu District – meaning that most of Durban, all of Pietermaritzburg, all of uMgungundlovu and parts of Ugu (Scottburgh and surrounds) received water from the Mgeni system.

The SA Weather Service has previously said the country experienced its lowest annual total rainfall in 112 years last year.

Hazelmere Dam, one of the main suppliers of bulk water in Northern eThekwini has thus far had 194.9mm of rain, while the average was 318.2mm. The Midmar Dam managed 108.5mm, while the average was ordinarily at 328.2mm.

"The below-average rainfall in the last quarter of 2015 firmly confirms the effects of the El Nino weather phenomenon. The figures illustrate that the rainfall received at all 12 dam sites from October to December 2015 is below the 20-year average, and in some instances half or less than half of the 20-year average."

Harichunder said if high rainfall did not arrive over the coming weeks, dam levels would continue to fall.

"If good rainfall is not received in the coming weeks, if the current high temperatures continue and if water demand and usage continue at the present rate, the level of dams in the Umgeni Water operational area – including Midmar - will continue to fall at a faster rate."

It was estimated that the level of Midmar Dam was dropping by 3% per month and that of Albert Falls by 4% per month.

According to Harichunder, figures for the main dams as of Thursday included Mearns at 85.83%, Spring Grove at 72.58%, Midmar at 47.22% (the lowest it has been in several years despite water currently being transferred from Mearns), Nagle at 88.61%, Albert Falls at 37.87% and Inanda at 80.72%

Relief for Northern Cape Farmers

Meanwhile in the Northern Cape, rains brought relief to farmers, the province's agriculture department said.

Department spokesperson Phemelo Manankong said the rains would "ease the burden on our farmers".

He said the dryness of the vegetation, due to a lack of rain, also created the perfect conditions for runaway veld fires.

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