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2023-09-21 12:40 PM

Western Cape Dams Overflow with Relief

  • Western Cape Dam Replenishment: The article highlights the significant increase in water levels in Western Cape dams, particularly in the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS), which now stands at 102.04%, thanks to persistent rainfall. This marks a remarkable improvement compared to the previous year's levels of 85%.
  • Regional Resilience Amid Climate Concerns: The Western Cape, susceptible to climate change impacts, has battled droughts and water scarcity. The recent increase in dam levels offers hope but emphasizes the need for ongoing water conservation and demand management measures to address long-term climate challenges.
  • Safety Reminders in the Midst of Abundant Water: While celebrating the rise in dam levels, the article also highlights the recent dangers of spring high tides in coastal areas of the Western Cape. It serves as a reminder that water, while essential, can also pose risks, urging readers to exercise caution near water facilities, rivers, dams, and other water systems, particularly during sporadic rainfall events.
By Miriam Matoma

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in the Western Cape is celebrating a significant turnaround as persistent rainfall steadily replenishes the region’s vital dams. The latest hydrological report released on September 18, 2023, indicates that most of the River Catchment Systems are now hovering comfortably above the 90% mark, marking a stark contrast to previous years.

The Western Cape, known for its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant cities, has experienced its fair share of water-related challenges in recent years. The devastating droughts that plagued the region left many concerned about the future water supply. However, the recent meteorological blessings have brought much-needed relief.

The Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS), which includes the six largest dams providing water to the City of Cape Town and its surroundings, is currently at a healthy 102.04%. This represents a substantial improvement compared to the same period last year when the water levels were hovering at a worrisome 85%.

Ms. Ntombizanele Bila-Mupariwa, DWS Western Cape Provincial Head, expressed her relief at the remarkable turnaround, especially in the Gouritz River Catchment area. Covering Central, Little Karoo, and the coastal belt, this region has consistently maintained levels above 90% for the past few weeks. She stated, “This is a relief given that this river catchment was a major concern in 2021 when it was tracking below 30%.”

Breaking down the numbers for individual dams, it’s evident that many have seen a dramatic increase in their water levels:

Theewaterskloof Dam, responsible for supplying 54% of the province’s water, is overflowing at 100%.
Misverstand Dam stands at an impressive 131%.
Brandvlei Dam has seen a notable improvement, now sitting at 79.50%.
Ceres Dam is brimming at 100%.
Gamka Dam stands at 97.99%.
Clanwilliam Dam reports a healthy 98.08%.
Miertjieskraal Dam is close to full capacity at 98.97%.
These statistics bring hope and a sense of security to the residents of the Western Cape who have endured the stress of water scarcity for far too long.

It’s crucial to understand that the Western Cape, like many other regions, is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts, including prolonged periods of hot, dry weather, reduced annual rainfall, and water losses. To mitigate these risks, efforts to implement water conservation and water demand management measures across all water-use sectors are being strongly encouraged.

However, amidst the jubilation of rising dam levels, the recent spring high tides that swept across coastal towns in the Western Cape serve as a stark reminder that while water is life, it can also be dangerous. The tides left a trail of destruction, highlighting the importance of exercising caution around water facilities, rivers, dams, and other water systems, especially during periods of sporadic rainfall that can quickly increase water levels.

As the Western Cape enjoys the resurgence of its water resources, residents are reminded of the collective responsibility to cherish and conserve this precious commodity. The persistent rains have given the region a lifeline, but sustainable water management practices remain crucial to safeguarding the Western Cape’s water future.

In conclusion, the recent surge in dam levels in the Western Cape is a testament to the resilience of the region and the effectiveness of water management efforts. It offers a glimmer of hope in the face of climate change challenges and serves as a valuable lesson in the importance of responsible water use. As the Western Cape continues on its path to recovery, vigilance and conservation will be key to ensuring a sustainable water supply for generations to come.

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Miriam Matoma

Miriam is a freelance writer, she covers economics and government news for Rateweb. You can contact her on: Email: miriam@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @MatomaMiriam