DAM HAS LESS WATER THAN THOUGHT, WATER FOR AGRICULTURE RESTRICTED
A new calibration of the Wolwedans Dam, which the dam’s owner, the Department of Water Affairs, announced last week, showed its level was down to 16,62 per cent instead of 18,5 per cent as advised initially. The Municipality is dependent on the Department for information on the level of the dam.
Although 34 mm of rain fell in the catchment area of the Wolwedans Dam last week, it was again insufficient to make a significant difference to the its level which rose marginally to approximately 16,9 per cent after the rain.
In another development last week, the Director General of Water Affairs also gazetted a restriction on the use of water for agricultural purposes in the catchment areas of the Wolwedans Dam, the Moordkuils River at Little Brak River and the Hartebeeskuil Dam in the Hartenbos River.
Based on the latest calibration, Mossel Bay has approximately twenty days less water from the dam than the previous calibration showed. The latest reading, however, excludes the approximately 200 megalitres of water below the gauge plate of the dam. It appears that the water below the gauge plate can be purified to a quality that is suitable for human consumption.
“This was obviously disappointing news and puts the Municipality under even more pressure in an already difficult situation.
“Even without rain we should nevertheless have enough water from the Wolwedans Dam, the much smaller Klipheuwel and Ernst Robertson Dams and the five boreholes, where water was struck in viable quantities, to last until the seawater desalination plant is completed towards the end of January or early February 2011. It was hoped that the desalination plant could start producing a third of its capacity by November 2010, but this no longer appears to be feasible.
“The restriction on the use of water for agricultural purposes is regretted. This can obviously not be good for the economy but it has been necessitated by the dire situation in which the whole of the Mossel Bay community finds itself. More than a hundred thousand people who reside in the urban areas and are dependent on the Municipality for their water face the risk of being without water altogether if the dams should run dry.
“The restriction of on the use of water for agricultural purposes will result into more water flowing into especially the Wolwedans Dam when it rains and also applies to farmers who until now pumped approximately 5 megalitres of water a day directly from the Wolwedans Dam,: said Dr Michele Gratz, Municipal Manager of Mossel Bay.
In terms of the notice in the Government Gazette the taking of raw water for agricultural purposes within the quaternary drainage areas is reduced by 60 per cent to supply 40 per cent of the unrestricted use of existing lawful water use as registered under the Water Authorisation, Registration and Management System of the Department of Water Affairs.
The restriction applies to the catchment areas of the Wolwedans and Hartebeeskuil Dams as well as the Moordkuils River upstream of the Klipheuwel Dam pumps. The restriction also applies to tributaries to the dams and the river as well as releases made from the Hartebeeskuil Dam within a tributary to the Hartenbos River.
A delegation comprising of members of the Standing Committees on Finance, Economic Development and the 2010 World Cup; Governance; Public Accounts and on Agriculture and Environmental Affairs also visited Mossel Bay last week to discuss the water situation with the Municipality. The Municipality as well as PetroSA, which is also a large consumer of water, made presentations to the group.