Dire warnings as dam levels drop

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Red lights flicker as drought continues to take its toll

WATER WOES: Bridle Drift Dam’s water capacity currently stands at 66%, compared to 93.9% in January last year, and officials have asked residents to use water sparingly Picture: DAILY DISPATCH FILE

THE unrelenting drought and heat in the Eastern Cape has affected dams drastically, which has in turn impacted water supply in the province.

Although East London has not yet been adversely affected like other areas such as Nelson Mandela Metro, where water restrictions are currently in place, the situation is not too rosy.

The Amathole system, which feeds East London’s water supply, includes the Laing, Nahoon, Bridle Drift and Wriggleswade dams, and was at a combined average of 93.9% this time last year, compared to January 16 this year, when it stood at 66.5%.

As of Tuesday, February 7, our biggest dam, the Bridle Drift Dam, was just over half full at 52.9%, the second largest, Wriggleswade was at 87.1%, Nahoon at 67.6% and Laing at 97.3%.

The Bridle Drift’s size or full storage capacity (FSC), in million cubic metres, is 98, Wriggleswade is 91.5, Nahoon is 19.3 and Laing 19.0.

Despite recent rains, the Bridle Drift has dropped – from 53.7% last week to 52.9% this week – showing that water usage by residents outweighed the rainfall in the actual catchment area of the dam.

Wriggleswade was, by Tuesday, up 0.1%, Nahoon was down from 68.9% and Laing up 0.2%, showing that despite the heavy and persistent rainfall of late, it did not fall in the catchment areas, or that or water usage exceeded the rainfall that actually fell in to the dams.

Buffalo City Metro spokesperson Sibusiso Cindi said in light of the above, all consumers are requested to use water sparingly. All consumers are advised to use water saving tips in order to reduce their water consumption until the dam levels have improved.

It is important that consumers save water because Weather SA spokesman Garth Sampson says it does not look like it is going to rain soon.

“Water shortage is a serious problem and it would be great if people knew that. In long-term forecast, we are looking at having rain in six months’ time and it is going to be slightly above normal,” he said.

Certain areas around the province have implemented water restrictions due to the high water demand and less supply, forcing citizens to use water sparingly. Because of the low dam levels, the Department of Water and Sanitation has appealed to all the people and businesses in the province to conserve water to meet the needs of the current and future generation.

At the moment the dam levels in the Algoa system, which includes Nqweba Dam, Corana Dam and Belfort Dam to mention just a few, is at 54.8% compared to last year’s 93.1% at this time of the year. This represents a sharp decline within a space of 12 months Department of Water & Sanitation spokesman, Sputnik Ratau said.

On average, the dam levels in the Eastern Cape are sitting at 58.3% compared to 73.3% at this time last year.

This is a cause for concern because the rain is very scarce, particularly in areas where it is needed the most, but the demand for water remains high.

For some water saving tips, see Water-wise tips article on this webpage.

 

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