Dams lowest ever

CRISIS CONTINUES: With the poor rainfall figures persisting, dam levels are not expected to improve, so water must be used sparingly Picture: FILE

Amathole water system sees dramatic drop

THIS winter’s low rainfall rate has led to a scarcity of water and a sharp decline in dam levels in the Eastern Cape, with the lowest levels ever recorded in the Amathole system that feeds Buffalo City Metro.

The water levels of South Africa’s 214 dams are gradually dropping each week, which is a major concern for all water users.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has issued a statement urging everyone to use water sparingly, as well as to adhere to water restrictions implemented by various municipalities.

The following percentages were issued by the DWS from August 2:

The Amathole system consists of six dams, four serving Buffalo City Metro (including East London, Bhisho and King William’s Town) such as the Laing, Nahoon, Bridle Drift and Wriggleswade dams.

The Amathole system is at its lowest level ever at 62.7%, compared with 83.4% last year – a decrease of 20.7%.

“These dam level percentages show that more rain is needed in order to fill the dams. With the current drought situation and low water levels in some of the province’s dams, the DWS is encouraging communities to continue saving water and to adhere to the necessary restrictions,” department spokesman Thandile Ngcume said.

“We urge communities to be responsible and protect and save our water resources and avoid a situation where we run out of water completely.

“Water is life and we cannot survive without it, therefore it’s our responsibility to save this precious resource for us and generations to come,” he said.

On Tuesday, the DWS website showed a slight increase in dam levels after much-needed rain over the last week.

The biggest dam, Bridle Drift, at 98 million cubic meters at full storage capacity (FSC), was at 39.9% full, up from 39.6 last week; Wriggleswade (91,5 FSC) was up from 77.6 to 79.3; Nahoon (19.3 FSC) was up to 52.7% from 51.9 and Laing Dam (19 FSC) was at 101%, the same as last week.

The weather forecast also does not look good for the next few weeks, with no real rain expected.

“It is below average rainfall for the season and it is advised that people use water sparingly,” Weather SA spokesman Garth Sampson said.

To help you save water, the GO! & Express have compiled some ways of recycling or reusing water in the household.

WikiHow provides some water recycling tips and the types of water one can use.

Grey water: This refers to any used water with a low level of contamination, and no exposure to faeces. This is the safest type of water to recycle.

Common sources of grey water include: showers and baths, bathroom sinks and laundry.

Ban dangerous and greasy materials from grey water:

Do not wash anything that came into contact with petrol/diesel, paint or other harsh chemicals down a drain that leads to grey water collection.

Also avoid washing oil or fat into these systems, as grease can clog soil and fail to drain.

Water from laundry that includes nappies or blood-soiled clothing should never be recycled without professional treatment.

This is “black water”, or water that contains biohazards or other major health risks.

Gather grey water in buckets: This is the easiest way to recycle water.

Place a bucket in the shower, or disconnect a bathroom sink trap and put a bucket under the opening.

Use grey water to flush a toilet. Never pour grey water into the toilet tank, as this can backflow into the clean water supply, or clog the flushing mechanism.

Some DWS water saving tips:

Take a five-minute shower instead of a bath.

If you do not have a shower, take a shallow bath.

This could save up to 400 litres of water in a week.

Do not overfill containers for cooking.

Not only will you save water, but you will save electricity as well.

  • Additional reporting by ETHIENNE ARENDS



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