Heavy rain helps the dams to increase to 61% – Karoo remains concerned

Significant rainfall on the weekend and on Monday increased the dam levels to 61.94%. This has risen from 59.78% last week.

According to the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Theewaterskloof Dam has reached 45.27% capacity.

"We are delighted that the Western Cape is receiving much-needed rains to recharge dam levels, given that we are rapidly approaching the end of the hydrological cycle," said department spokesman Sputnik Ratau.

The department said, however, that it remained concerned about the flood risk management of the Klein Karoo region, which covers the areas in Oudtshoorn.

The Council of Great Oudtshoorn recently declared a local disaster as a result of critical water shortages.

Although the recent rains will bring some stability to the dams, the drought conditions remain and it is still necessary to continue water conservation initiatives. Water restrictions will be lifted once the dam levels reach 85%.

The city has since argued for the conservative, marginal reduction of water restrictions based on the dam levels.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said last Friday during a meeting with the department that the City proposed the easing of the restriction levels, which would pave the way for the corresponding relaxation of the restriction tariffs.

The city has proposed to ease the urban constraints from 45% to 40% and to relax the agricultural restriction from 60% to 50%.

"These restriction levels were imposed by the department as part of the response to the severe drought to protect the water in the dams supplied by Cape Town, the Western Cape and the agricultural sector.

"This means, for example, that Cape Town should reduce its use by 45% of what would normally be allocated.

"This is also the way in which the city's goal of achieving 450 million liters of water per day or 50 liters per person per day was calculated."

The department promised to give an answer to the proposals by the end of this month.

The average water consumption of the past week was 513 million liters per day, less than the 527 million liters per day of the previous week.

Local government, environmental affairs and development planning MEC Anton Bredell said that the precipitation recorded in Ceres in the last seven days was 110 mm and the Berg River Dam, a major dam for the city of Cape Town, reached a capacity of 93%.

Bredell reiterated concerns about the Karoo areas, in the basin of the Gouritz river, where average dam levels were 18%.

"Areas such as Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn remain under pressure.

"However, those areas are largely precipitation areas in spring and summer and we hope that from October some good rains will come in those areas."

Bredell has called on consumers to use water sparingly.

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