Water Wednesday: Heatwaves are affecting South Africa’s dam levels

South Africa’s dams dropped by a marginal 0.7% last week following a persistent heat wave that engulfed most parts of the country since September.

A weekly report by the Department of Water and Sanitation released on 31 October showed that the levels dropped from 73.2% to 72.3% week on week. However, the figure is a vast improvement compared to 62.8% in the same period last year. With more rains expected during summer, the areas that experience summer rainfall will have more water to store in their reservoirs during the dry winter of 2019.

However, the department insists on every citizen continuing to save water by using it wisely and sparingly. At the moment the country has 23 440 cubic metres of water in storage. The total storage capacity for all dams and reservoirs combined is 32 320.8 cubic metres, including Swaziland and Lesotho.

The hydrology section of the department was informed by the South African Weather Services (SAWS) that the next three months would receive less-than-normal rainfall because of a weak El Nino phenomenon.

Meanwhile, citizens are advised to stay indoors as much as possible and drink lots of water to calm their bodies for the duration of the heatwave. For a quick dehydration drink, mix 6 level teaspoons of sugar and half a teaspoon of salt into 5 cups (1 litre) of water. Coconut water is also great for rehydrating.

A heatwave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into an area. In such a high-pressure system, air from upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled toward the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature.

Cape Town comes to grips with the heatwave

Cape Town had a heatwave during the last week of October. The extreme heat also affected the Cape Winelands, West Coast district, Little Karoo, southern Namakwa district and coastal regions of the Northern Cape. Maximum temperatures soared to the upper 30s and lower 40s in these regions. During high temperatures, citizens are warned against unnecessary exposure to the sun as this may result in dehydration and skin diseases.

Here is your weekly dam update:

  • At 97.9%, Gauteng still leads other provinces with its dam levels, having dropped fractionally from 98% last week. It is followed by Free State with 83.3% and Northern Cape who recorded 78.3%.
  • The Cape Town Dams System consisting of six dams serving mainly City of Cape Town this week is at 64.1%.
  • The Eastern Cape Dam System is at 63.7% while KwaZulu-Natal sits at 58.8%.

Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:

For a more in-depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.

 

  AUTHOR
Caxton Central

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