Late summer rains fill up dams and enhance water security for the coming months
DURBAN - Heavy rains in the past fortnight have filled up 13 dams in Umgeni Water’s service area, leaving water resources in a strong state as the traditional wet season comes to an end.
Shami Harichunder, Corporate Stakeholder Manager at Umgeni Water, said there are 19 dams within Umgeni Water’s operational area, 15 of which are managed by Umgeni Water.
He said Mearns, Midmar, Inanda and Henley dams, all of which are in the Mgeni System, are at levels in excess of 100% and overflowing.
"Henley Dam has been decommissioned and is generally used for recreational purposes. Nagle Dam, also in the Mgeni System, is at 92% and expected to begin spilling in the next five to seven days. Spring Grove and Albert Falls, the remaining dams in the Mgeni System, are at 79% and 47% respectively," he said.
Harichunder said Albert Falls, the largest dam in KwaZulu-Natal with storage capacity of 290million cubic metres, is increasing by approximately 1% weekly as a result of overflows from upstream Midmar Dam, good rains in its catchment and strong run-off.
He said the total amount of raw water currently in storage in the Mgeni System is at 81%, the strongest it has been in approximately three years.
"The combined volume of raw water resources in the Mgeni System means it is at an acceptable level and that there is no risk of water shortages occurring in the short-term. There is adequate water in this system to meet the full demands of eThekwini Metro, Msunduzi Local Municipality, uMgungundlovu District City and parts of Ugu District Municipality in the approaching generally dry spells of autumn and winter and beyond," he said.
Four dams in the North West Region of KZN – Woodstock, Spioenkop, Wagensdrift and Olifantskop – are also overflowing due to recent torrential rains in the Drakensberg and Ladysmith.
Harichunder said Umgeni Water is the bulk potable services provider to the uThukela District Municipality in the North West Region and draws water from Olifantskop Dam to supply potable water to parts of Ladysmith.
"Heavy rains over a protracted period have also pushed up the levels of the four dams in the middle South Coast – Umzinto, EJ Smith, Nungwane and Mhlabatshane – causing them to exceed 100% and spill.
Projections are that raw water available in this system will be adequate to meet the full demands of Ugu District Municipality, also beyond the autumn and winter months," he said.
In the Harry Gwala District, the Home Farm Dam that supplies water to Ixopo is overflowing.
Hazelmere Dam, in the north of Durban, is at 57%, based on its new gauge after its wall was raised to double its storage capacity.
This, Harichunder said, represents adequate raw water resources for treatment and supply to eThekwini Metro and the iLembe District Municipality.
"Quarterly water resource analysis by Umgeni Water, the most recent of which was released in November 2020, suggests that there are increased chances of continued above normal rainfall until the end of March 2021 in the eastern parts of South Africa, including KZN. In the past 17 days alone, the Mgeni System received approximately 247 mm rainfall, already exceeding the South African Weather Service’s projections of between 100 mm and 200 mm in each of the four months from November 2020," he said.