GEORGE NEWS – The level of the Garden Route Dam in George has broken through the elusive 60% barrier for the first time in 19 months and yesterday measured a healthy 61.5%.
The last time the dam level stood at 61% was on 1 April 2009, but then dropped to just 26% by this time last year – seeming like an April Fool’s joke gone horribly wrong.
Almost 63mm was measured at the George Airport from Friday to Monday and the dam is expected to rise even more as water from the catchment area continues to flow into the dam.
Officials from the George municipality promised a while ago that the strict water restrictions in George would be slightly relaxed once the level of the dam reached 60%, but this is subject to negotiations with the department of water affairs. It is expected that Georgians would at least be allowed to water their gardens using a watering can, but that hose pipes and sprinklers would still be out of the question.
Although huge parts of the Southern Cape received good downpours bringing much needed relief, the department will assess the restriction criteria for each area depending on the level of the respective dams. The region has been declared a disaster area and received disaster funds to help them through the drought, not allowing municipalities to unilaterally decide on water restriction alleviation.
In Mossel Bay the Wolwedans Dam has risen to over 26% after 104mm fell in Kwepertuin, the catchment area of the dam.
Mossel Bay is building a desalination plant and the rain has given them an extra six weeks (until middle March) before the taps will run dry if it doesn’t rain at all. The rain will also help with the water supply over the holiday when thousands of tourists descend on the wide spread coastal area supplied by the dam.
An announcement by the minister of water affairs, Buyelwa Sonjica regarding drought disaster funding for Mossel Bay to the tune of R92-million is expected soon.
The Korentepoort Dam in Riversdal is at 45%, whereas the Duiwenhoks in Heidelberg rose to an incredible 72%, more than doubling its level in just two weeks.
Oudtshoorn had to be satisfied with a disappointing 9mm whereas 65mm was measured in Knysna, assuring the town of water for up to six months.
In Ladismith, in the drought stricken Kannaland district, a very welcome 37mm fell since Friday.
However, the Gamka Dam in Beaufort West remains bone dry as only about 2mm fell in the dam’s catchment area.
The dam ran completely dry at the beginning of September and the townsfolk have been dependent on 28 bore holes for all their water needs.
Hein Rust, the disaster manager of the Central Karoo district municipality says a sewage cleaning plant should be up and running by the end of December. “This will provide about 25% of the town’s needs, but we still have to use water from an outside source like the dam or at this stage, the boreholes, in order for the water works to be functional. The last time we experienced such a severe drought was in 1985.”
Some more rain has been predicted for George and the Southern Cape for today and tomorrow. Hopefully the 2010 matric pass rate will follow the same upward trend displayed by the Garden Route Dam and end up at well above 80%!
ARTICLE: ILSE SCHOONRAAD – George Herald