Restrictions remain despite good rains

Umgeni Water and the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) have welcomed the recent above average rainfalls but the situation still remains dire with dams on the Mgeni water system, which includes Midmar and Albert Falls, still being unable to meet the uMgungundlovu district’s full demand requirements.
According to the South African Weather Service, Pietermaritzburg has received 47.4mm of rain in the last nine days and 59.8mm of rain was recorded at the weather station in Cedara for the same time frame. According to an Umgeni Water report, the amount of rainfall received during this period remains favourable with the corresponding period in 2016 however the amount of rainfall received from September 2016 to present day is still below the 10 year average for this period
In the last nine days a total of 409mm of rainfall has been recorded at the six dam sites (Mearns, Spring Grove Dam, Midmar, Albert Falls, Nagles and Inanda) in the Mgeni System.
Water levels at Midmar Dam and Albert Falls Dam dropped drastically in 2014 due to below-average rainfall. A deficit in rainfall and inadequate water resources caused the dams to remain at low levels.
Midmar Dam’s storage is currently at 71.2% which is a 26% increase above the same period last year while Albert Falls Dam, remains at a critically low 32% , 16% lower than last year.
The Joint Operations Committee (JOC) for the Mgeni system met on Thursday last week to discuss the slight improvements in the levels of major dams.
The JOC- which comprises of municipalities of eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, Msunduzi and Ugu district, Umgeni Water, agriculture, Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Department of Water and Sanitation and Department of Public Works- was pleased with the steady rise in the level of Midmar, but remained concerned over the level of Albert Falls.
Umgeni Water estimates it will take at least three seasons of above-average rainfall for Albert Falls Dam to reach capacity. Kevin Meier, manager of planning services at Umgeni Water said it would be a while before Midmar Dam and Albert Falls Dam reached satisfactory levels to meet supplier demand.
“We need above average rainfall for at least two years to fully recover from the drought,” Meier said.
South African Weather Service forecaster Wiseman Dlamini says March is projected to be a slightly dryer month.
“According to predictions there is less than 40% chance of above average rainfall in the Midlands for the month of March. However average rainfall is expected,” he said Meanwhile, upgrades to the Midmar Dam Water Treatment Plant are still in progress as Umgeni Water increases treatment capacity to keep up with increased demand from the uMgungundlovu region.

Thembalethu Zakwe

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