While reiterating its call for citizens to use water wisely, the Department of Waterand Sanitation (DWS) on Thursday announced that it would release water from its reserve Sterkfontein dam into the Vaal dam on November 7.
Amid the ongoing drought, dam levels across the country have depleted to unprecedented levels, with the Vaal dam at 26.6%, while Sterkfontein stood at 91.5%. The minimum release planned at this stage is 190-million cubic metres of water, which will drop the Sterkfontein dam by about 7%.
South Africa has received the lowest rainfall since 1904 with extremely high temperatures experienced in October and November 2015.
The Vaal system supplies water to 14 dams and about 12-million people and industries. The system is currently at 49.1%, compared with 67.9% at the same time last year.
The Vaal system also supports about 45% of the country’s economy, with 80% of the water from the Vaal system used by domestic consumers.
The plan is to release water before the Vaal dam drops below 25%, depending on the rate the dam is dropping and, should there be considerable rainfall on days before the release, the plan will be reconsidered.
The water will be released into the Nuwejaarspruit, which joins the Wilge river, on the outskirts of Harrismith, flowing into the Vaal dam. The release will be done in such a way as to avoid flooding.
Farmers adjacent to the river have been requested to remove pumps, livestock and farming equipment.
Farmers are also requested not to abstract the water for agricultural purposes.
Earlier this week, the authorities said the country’s dams could take up to five years to recover, even if the country experiences normal rainfall, increasing the prospects of waterrationing.
In a post-Cabinet meeting statement issued on Thursday, it was announced that a technical task team had been established to monitor the implementation of waterrestrictions across the country.
Rand Water, the main supplier of potable water into Gauteng, would reduce its supply by 687-million litres a day. All municipalities within the supply area have been given specific targets to meet in respect of reducing their waterconsumption.
The initial approach has been an incremental one, with a gradual reduction in supplies, starting at 5% and gradually increasing to 15% by throttling the main valves. From October 3, it shifted to a volume-based restriction.
“It is important that all consumers comply with the restrictions to make sure that we can stretch our available water supplies,” the DWS stated.
The Gauteng province is further setting up a joint operations centre to monitor and ensure compliance. All municipalities have been directed to establish operation centres with immediate effect and to ensure that communication with consumers is improved.
BY: MEGAN VAN WYNGAARDT
EDITED BY: CHANEL DE BRUYN
CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR ONLINE
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