Water & Sanitation on drought situation

The recent intermittent rainfalls in parts of the country have had little or no effect on the current drought that has engulfed most parts of South Africa. Instead, dam levels continue to drop alarmingly, causing more anxiety in their wake.

This is the view of Dr Beason Mwaka, a hydrologist and Chairperson of the Disaster Management Centre in the Department of Water and Sanitation. He said that despite some rainfall last week that raised hopes that they might break the neck of the drought, the dam level were dropping at a rate of one percent. Gariep Dam, the biggest in the country that is situated in the Free State, was particularly worrying because it was a nerve-centre for the generation of electricity for Eskom.

At the beginning of the week the dam level was measured at a perilous 54,4% compared to 71,2% in the same period last year. Last week the level of the dam was measured at 55,4%, meaning that it has dropped by 1% since then, Mwaka said.

He said that most of the water that came as a result of last week's rainfall was lost to evaporation as the soil was very hard and dry because of the severe heatwave that South Africa is experiencing.

"The soil would become slightly moisture overnight but the little amount of rain water was lost to evaporation as the heatwave returned the next day," Mwaka said.

Mwaka repeated the government's appeal to all South Africans to use water wisely and sparingly as the country is far from being out of the woods.

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