Rain for drought-stricken Western Cape

2018-08-07 05:18


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A cold front brought widespread rain to parts of the drought-stricken Western Cape on Monday with light snowfalls forecast along the Cape fold mountain belt from the Cederberg to the Swartberg.

The rain is likely to spread to the southern Cape on Tuesday.

This early August rain comes after below-average rainfall in July.

The South African Weather Service warned of strong north-easterly winds over parts of the West Coast on Monday, blowing between 45km/h to 60km/h.


Snow is expected overnight on Monday and into Tuesday on the Cederberg, Hottentots Holland, Matroosberg, Hex River, Langeberg and the Swartberg mountains.

Over the next few days, the rain will increase Cape Town's dam levels, which hovered around the mid-fifty percent mark for several weeks during the warm, dry July.

Capetonians urged to keep saving water

The combined total level of these dams was 56.9% of storage capacity on Monday, up just 0.2% from the previous week.

The average water consumption by Capetonians last week was 505 million litres a day – 55 million litres more than the target of 450 million litres a day set by the City of Cape Town.

The City warned on Monday that rainfall was difficult to predict with any confidence and urged Capetonians to carry on with their "amazing water-saving efforts to build a buffer for the summer months ahead".

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

The authorities will decide in early October, once the rainy season has ended, whether the severe Level 6B water restrictions in Cape Town – and the 60% cut in irrigation water to agriculture in the region – will be relaxed, and if so, to what extent.

Cape Town's combined dam level at 56.9% still falls into the City's defined "danger zone", which will only change once it rises above 65%.

However, the City is out of the "failure zone" it was in earlier this year, between 13.5% and around 35%, where system failure is likely.

In May dam levels went down to 20%.

Average dam levels at 51%

The national Department of Water and Sanitation resumed construction of the raising of the Clanwilliam Dam on Monday after a long delay.

Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, welcomed the move and said the long delay in raising the dam wall had contributed to the province's "drought woes". 

Bredell said had the wall been raised according to the original time frame, the drought might not have been as dire as it was over the last summer.

"We hope that similar actions follow or other projects needed across other regions of the province, which includes the Bergriver/Voëlvlei augmentation scheme," Bredell said.

The average level of dams in the Western Cape is just below 51%.

He said the Gouritz River catchment was "in dire straits" with an average level of only 19% in the region.

Theewaterskloof is 42% full, compared to 22% this time last year; Voëlvlei Dam 60% (22% last year); Bergriver Dam 87% (44% last year) and Clanwilliam 99% (28% last year).

Read more on:    cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water

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