July 15, 2020
While water storage in many parts of the city and the province has improved significantly following the recent downpours that were accompanied by storms and flooding, it is too early to tell how much of a contribution the rains will make on farming, agricultural experts have said.
Mayco member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg, said: “Dams supplying the Cape metro increased by a staggering 9.2% over the past week to 72.7% of total capacity.
“Just three weeks ago, dam levels were at 58.8% and although rainfall has been inconsistent during this period, a handful of significant storm events have done some heavy lifting for our stored water supplies.
“While every bit of rainfall we receive is cause to be grateful, it should be noted that we are still tracking at below historic averages and as things stand, we are still experiencing the drought. It is important that we do not forget the harsh lessons learnt about the finite nature of our most precious resource.”
Department of Water and Sanitation national spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “The Theewaterskloof, which is the largest dam in the Western Cape, is standing at 68.5% – a 10% increase from the same time last week.
“Thirteen of the dams across the province have seen an over 5% increase and they include Clanwilliam, Bulshoek, Misverstand, Ceres and Karee Dam.
“The July 13 hydrological report indicates a significant increase in the dam levels of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS). The WCWSS is currently at 72.5% as compared to 63.2% at the same time last week.”
Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer added: “The current dam level for the province’s state dams stands at 53% full, which means that significantly more rain is required to fill our dams.
“Irrigation farmers still need to be cautious as the dams are not full yet, follow-up rains are required to fill the dams.
“Farmers are urged to not obstruct or deviate the natural flow of water as it could lead to localised flooding. Livestock farmers are requested to keep livestock in sheltered areas or sheds.
“Final decisions regarding the availability of water and possible water restrictions can only be made towards the end of the winter and the onset of the irrigation season which is at the end of October,” added Meyer.
Chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, Wandile Sihlobo, said: “The rains are a welcome development for agriculture, particularly winter crops that are at a growing stage and need increased moisture.
“Yields and harvests will also be influenced by weather conditions in the coming months. Suffice to say, the current rains are positive for agriculture.”
Source: Independent Online