Water department says the rain mostly all fell in the wrong places

Water department says the rain mostly all fell in the wrong places

A car is seen in a flooded parking areaa at a car dealership near a flooded bridge in Centurion, 9 December 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mostly, all the bad weather has apparently achieved is destroying homes, infrastructure and killing people.

In a statement on Thursday, the department of human settlements, water and sanitation said the recent heavy rains have basically done more harm than good.

“The heavy rains that fell in parts of the country have wreaked havoc and mayhem in Gauteng where a woman died and households were destroyed after being flooded this week,” said spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has warned especially shack dwellers in KwaZulu-Natal who live next to rivers to relocate after the South African Weather Service reported predicted 80% rains in the province until the weekend.

She reiterated her appeal to shack dwellers and those living below the flood line to relocate immediately to higher and safer areas to avoid being flooded.

“Last month eThekwini Metro embarked on a drive to warn people who have their structures next to rivers such as Isipingo River in Durban to move away in anticipation of the heavy rains that might result in localised flooding. The warning has now been extended to all the people who live below the flood line along the coastal belt to relocate immediately.”

They said the recent rains in Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga and the south of Limpopo had had little impact on the country’s dire water situation, with dam levels still dropping by one percent weekly.

“On the contrary, the national dam levels have dropped from 57.6% to 56.1% this week,” said Ratau.

Hydrologists had attributed this state of affairs to the heavy rains falling in areas that had little or no catchments at all.

“The week-long rains caused widespread flooding in Gauteng, with several motorists and residents in Centurion and Mamelodi in Pretoria left stranded as a result.

“Meanwhile, Joburg and Tshwane metros are keeping their water restrictions in place while they are assessing the cumulative impact of the heavy rains in the two cities.”

The latest report issued by the department of water and sanitation has suggested that the heavy rains only had an impact on smaller dams in regions that did not have sufficient catchments to harness rain water.

“An overview report on the drought that was compiled by the department says that, overall, at national level, dams are still at a lower average level and still falling slightly despite a few increases. However, the good rains in Gauteng and Mpumalanga accounted for good increases in some related dams; while dams in Limpopo and North West showed modest improvement.

“Dams in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Lesotho continued their modest decreases while significant drops were recorded in the Free State and Western Cape. Western Cape has entered its dry summer hydrological season until May next year.”

Dams in Mpumalanga, upper Limpopo and northern Free State would, however, benefit from the Gauteng runoff over the next week, according to the report.

The weekly report nevertheless painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in Eastern Cape where vast parts of the region were still experiencing extremely dry conditions to complete drought.

Regions under stress were Butterworth, towns falling under the Chris Hani District Municipality and eight others under the jurisdiction of Joe Gqabi.

“The Xilinca Dam and smaller weirs that provide water to Butterworth and surrounding areas in the Eastern Cape are empty.

“The department of water and sanitation continues to help alleviate the impact of this misfortune in the stressed regions of the province, including funding in the region of R248 million already spent. Two weeks ago Minister Sisulu met with the Mayor of Butterworth and other principals to discuss ways of intervention in a town where the local dam has run dry completely.”

Meanwhile, the situation remained desperate in the Mopani region of Limpopo where the Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba dams dropped to 4.8% and 2.7% respectively. 

(Edited by Charles Cilliers)

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