CAPE TOWN– South Africa’s Western Cape Province remains in the grips of the worst drought in living memory but it seems there is some hope as good rainfall has been seen in most parts of the province over the last few weeks resulting in an increase in dam levels.

It will, however, take several good rainy seasons for the province to fully recover and meanwhile, the strict water restrictions remain firmly in place.

In February, this year the Theewaterskloof Dam was critically low at only 11 per cent of capacity. As the largest dam in the province and one of the main water sources for the city of Cape Town, the country’s second largest urban conurbation, the Department of Water and Sanitation conducted emergency work to extract the little water which remained.

Now, after the first winter rainfalls, things look slightly better. At 20 per cent of capacity, it’s still severely low, but a vast improvement from three months ago.

The Du Toit River is flowing and run-off from the mountains are helping, which is a welcome sight. The combined dam levels for the province sits at 24 per cent compared with around 18 per cent at the same time last year.

James-Brent Styan, the pokesperson for the Wesern cape Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, said Sunday: We have seen ground water being used around the province quite a lot. So a lot of the rain around the province is going towards replenishing that and also the aquifers beside that replacing the surface water and increasing the dams so there’s always hope. We’ve been working hard over the past three years to ensure that no area in the province ran out of drinking water.

However, the drought is a long way from over and Level 6b water restrictions remain in place in Cape Town.

This action limits consumers to 50 litres of water per person per day.

It’s a long way from being over and we need to continue to ask people to use as little water as possible, we have to allow our system to recover as much as possible over this winter period. The winter is when we normally get our rain so this rain isn’t strange so we have to allow the system to recover ahead of the coming summer months, said Styan.

Water savings remain key. But every cloud moving in and above the province brings hope that more, and good downpours will come.


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