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Drought Relief in sight for Western Cape but not for the Eastern Cape

24 August 2018
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Drought Relief in sight for Western Cape but not for the Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape is still suffering major losses in the agricultural sector as a result of the continued drought, while the Western Cape is experiencing some relief

In years gone by cold fronts would sweep into the Western Cape and make their way across the country bringing much rain to the coastal regions. Changing weather patterns across the world have seen weather patterns change and the Eastern and Western Cape no longer experience these guaranteed high rainfall periods.

Relief comes to the Western Cape

Good news for the drought-stricken Western Cape came in the form of a dramatic increase in the province's dam levels. According to the Department of Water Affairs, dam levels increased from 45% to 51.7% in seven days, thanks to recent torrential rains in large parts of the province.

And that's not all. The South African Weather Service has predicted more wet weather in the weeks ahead - raising hopes that the drought that has devastated Western Cape for the past two years will finally come to an end. "Levels at the Theewaterskloof Dam which feeds Cape Town, have almost doubled to an astounding 38.5% compared to 18% a year ago. However, despite the good rains, the department will only review the current water restrictions when the dam levels have reached 85% capacity," department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a statement.

According to Ratau, the Cape Town Dams System - six dams serving the Cape Town metro - has increased from 48.3% to 53.0%. The system was at 24.7% at the same time last year. Clanwilliam Dam is up from 67.7% to 98.3%. At the same time last year, it was at 20.6%. Voelvlei Dam increased from 44.7% to 52.2%.

Stable picture of average national dam levels

"The report paints a stable picture of average national dam levels as they were recorded at 79.3%, the same figure as last week,” Ratau reported.

"Comparatively, the average national picture suggests an improved water situation in the country compared to 70.5% in 2017. If every South African continues heeding the call to save water and use it sparingly, the situation holds a bright future for the country," Ratau added.

Leading the pack is the Vaal Dam in Gauteng. The Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), consisting of 14 dams and serving mainly Gauteng, Sasol and Eskom, decreased from 86.1% to 85.8%. The system was at 81.9% at the same time last year.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Umgeni Dam System, which boasts five dams that serve eThekwini and Msunduzi in Pietermaritzburg, decreased slightly from 76.6% to 76.0%. The system was at 61.6% during the same period last year. In Limpopo, the average dam levels decreased from 73.7% to 72.9%, while average dam levels in Mpumalanga remained stagnant at 80.2%.

The Eastern Cape has the lowest dam levels in the country. The Algoa Water Supply System, with five dams serving Nelson Mandela Bay, decreased from 19.7% in July to a perilous 19.3% in early August and is currently at 18.40%. Last year, the system stood at 34.2%. The worst is the Kouga Dam, which has reduced from 7.8% to 6.88% this week.