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South Africa ‘not out of the woods’ yet, despite weekly improvement in water levels

Persistent rains across South Africa have started increasing the country’s dam levels, which rose by 1% week-on-week, according to the most recent weekly report by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

The report states that the average national level is currently 60.2%, a slight improvement from last week’s 59.2%.

Despite the improvement, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu renewed her call to all South Africans to continue saving water, warning that the country “is not out of the woods yet”, and that some provinces were still in the grip of severe drought.

The Eastern Cape and parts of the Northern Cape are among the worst affected provinces.

Sisulu recently announced R300-million in government funding to mitigate the effects of the drought in the Northern Cape, where the provincial government has declared the situation a “provincial disaster”.

However, recently, provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have received consistent rainfalls, which have slightly improved these areas’ water situation.

Gauteng’s dam levels have increased to 101.2%, followed by Northern Cape and Mpumalanga at 77.5% and 73.3%, respectively.

Hydrologically, Gauteng and the Northern Cape have fewer and smaller dams that fill up quickly by the slightest rains, the DWS said.

The Free State, which received hammering rains recently, has had its dam levels increasing from 65.6% to 67.7% this week. The province boasts some of the biggest dams in the country, including the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams.

Limpopo has further also seen an improvement in its water situation with dam levels rising from just below 50% two months ago, to 58.5% this week.

According to the report, three of the province’s dams – Magoebaskloof, Flag Boshielo and Tonteldoos – are “bursting at the seams” following relentless rains last week.

The situation, however, still remains dire in the Mopani district, where the Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba dams remain stagnant at only 4.6% and 2.5% of capacity.

The torrential rains also made a huge difference in Mpumalanga, where dam levels have risen by 11% from 60.2% to 71.3% this week.

Nooitgedacht dam, in Nkomati, rose to 100.7%, while Vygeboom shot up by 12% to 102%. The Inyaka dam, in Bushbuckridge, and Westoe, in the Usutu region, recorded levels of 46.5% and 42.7%, respectively.

As a result of consistent rains, the province now has 1 809.2 m3 of water in storage.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal is also experiencing a steady rise in its dam levels, with the province’s dams rising from 53.4% last week to 54.3% this week.

The Driel Barrage and Hluhluwe dams on the North Coast were at 100.3% and 101.4%, respectively.

The good level of rains has also increased dam levels in North West from 56.3% to 61% this week. Owing to this, four dams – Swartruggens, Middelkraal, Bospoort and Klipvoor – are full to capacity.

However, the Klein Marico dam recorded the lowest level at 7.1%.

This is because of the poor rainfall that occurred in the region between Zeerust and Groot Marico, the DWS said.

With the Western Cape having entered its dry hydrological season, dam levels have dropped to 60.5% in the province. After having recovered from the worst drought in 100 years, the province now has 996 m3 of water stored in its reservoirs for use during the dry season.

The storage figure indicates a 3% improvement compared with the corresponding period last year, the statement said.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/south-africa-not-out-of-the-woods-yet-despite-weekly-improvement-in-water-levels-2020-01-15
South Africa ‘not out of the woods’ yet, despite weekly improvement in water levels
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Western Cape concerned about predicted rainfall

While the dam levels in the Western Cape recorded a marginal year-on-year climb, continued early weather predictions for this year indicate the season ahead may not see the rainfall that is needed in all regions.

At the start of 2020, the Western Cape’s dam levels climbed slightly to 53.9%, from the recorded levels of 51.2% in the corresponding period last year.

However, Western Cape Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Minister Anton Bredell urges communities across the province to use water responsibly.

“We need to permanently reduce our water use as the resource is finite and demand keeps increasing,” he says, noting that the province continues to monitor and provide support to areas where extreme drought continues.

“We continue to be most concerned about the Karoo region of the province where the Gouritz river catchment sees average dam levels of only 15.5% at the moment, despite recent rainfall in the region.”

The area continues to rely largely on groundwater for drinking and presently all communities still have sufficient drinking water.

“Farmers in those regions continue to be most affected and we urge them to contact the provincial department of agriculture for assistance,” he concludes.

 

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/western-cape-concerned-over-predicted-rainfall-2020-01-13
Western Cape concerned about predicted rainfall
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Ethiopia seeks mediation over Nile dam deadlock with Egypt

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister asked South Africa’s President to intervene in the Nile dam deadlock between Egypt and his country.

The three countries and neighboring Sudan are being hosted by the US Treasury for negotiations in Washington on Monday.

Last week Ethiopia said broader talks had reached a deadlock following Egypt’s introduction of new proposals to fill the dam in 12 to 21 years.

“We are willing to play a role in whatever agreement that can be crafted, and we will remain supportive to finding peaceful solutions between countries on our continent,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who’s in line to take over the African Union’s rotating chairmanship, said at a press conference on Sunday.

Tensions have flared over the dam on the Blue Nile that’s set to be Africa’s largest hydropower project when completed. Egypt and Ethiopia, with populations of about 100 million each, are struggling to reach an agreement on how to fill the reservoir.

“We are requesting as a brother and a friendly country to negotiate between Ethiopia and Egypt as well as the Sudan. I am sure you will play a significant role in bringing us a win-win solution,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said during a State visit to South Africa on Sunday.

Egypt, which depends on the Nile for almost all its fresh water, is urging parties to respect a 1959 pact on water allowances, which Ethiopia says should be reworked because it dates to the colonial era.

Construction on the dam is five years behind schedule and probably well over its original €3.4-billion budget. When the government ran short on funding, ordinary Ethiopians were tapped for donations, and civil servants donated parts of their salaries.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/ethiopia-seeks-mediation-over-nile-dam-deadlock-with-egypt-2020-01-13
Ethiopia seeks mediation over Nile dam deadlock with Egypt
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South Sudan plans environmental audit of oil fields in move to curb pollution

South Sudan is launching a tender for a comprehensive environmental audit of all its oil-producing fields in a bid to reduce pollution following years of neglect, the government said on Friday.

Oil sales bring in almost all the revenue of the East African nation, which has boosted output to stand at about 180 000 bbl/d in October, as it struggles to rebuild an economy shattered by five years of civil war.

But with the petroleum sector historically causing a loss of grazing land, soil and water contamination as well as other health risks in and around oil-producing areas, the government wants to strengthen enforcement and regulatory oversight.

“South Sudan is now faced with the challenge of balancing developmental needs with the spirit of environmental protection,” the government said in a statement.

Petroleum Minister Awow Daniel Chuang said the environmental audit would be conducted ahead of any new exploration and drilling in South Sudan, which wants to ramp up production and intends to offer 14 new oil blocks for exploration in a licensing round early in 2020.

Tender pre-qualification documents for conducting the full environmental audit are available at the ministry’s headquarters in Juba or on its website until January 20, the government said.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/south-sudan-plans-environmental-audit-of-oil-fields-in-move-to-curb-pollution-2020-01-10
South Sudan plans environmental audit of oil fields in move to curb pollution
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Ethiopia warns of last chance to reach agreement on $5bn dam

Ethiopia has warned of a “last chance” to reach an agreement on the filling and operation of the $5-billion dam being built by Addis Ababa (the country’s commercial and cultural hub) on the Nile. 

According to Anadolu Agency (AA), Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have been in talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) since March 2015, when they adopted a Declaration of Principles, including the principle of “no significant harm” on downstream countries. 

Egypt’s Water Minister Mohamed Abdel-Aty said the three countries could bridge their differences as they have reached consensus on the “basic ingredients” of agreement including stage filling of the dam, drought mitigation and co-operation rule. 

“We agreed on many basic ingredients but differences remained in the approach such as a definition of drought threshold.” Abdel-Aty said. 

AA also said that the ongoing construction of the dam on the Blue Nile, a Nile River tributary, has been a sticking point between the east African neighbours. 

It said Ethiopia hailed it as a critical step in its economic development, but Egypt fears the dam will reduce its traditional share of Nile waters as defined in the 1959 water-sharing treaty. 

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/ethiopia-warns-of-last-chance-to-reach-agreement-on-5bn-dam-2020-01-10
Ethiopia warns of last chance to reach agreement on $5bn dam
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Gauteng dams remain at stable levels

Gauteng’s combined provincial water storage level has reached 99.2% this week – an improvement from 94.3% in the corresponding period the year before.

The Integrated Vaal River System’s 14 major dams registered an aggregate level of 62.4%, which, while up from last week’s 61.9%, is lower than the 69.3% level recorded during the same period last year.

“[The] Vaal dam is struggling to recover optimally as it sits at 50.6%, a sharp decline compared with 74.6% during the same period last year,” the Department of Water and Sanitation said in a statement on Thursday.

Bronkhorstspruit dam, east of Pretoria, has shown stability from last week’s levels, maintaining a decent 94.6% this week. The dam stood at 91.3% in the same week last year.

Rietvlei dam has remained at 100.6%, while Roodeplaat dam is stable at 100.4%.

Despite the positive trend, some major dams in the province have not fully recovered and the department urges consumers to reduce water consumption.

Source Article from http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/article/gauteng-dams-remain-at-stable-levels-2020-01-09
Gauteng dams remain at stable levels
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