The South African Water and Sanitation Department says it will take up to two or three years for the country to recover from the drought conditions it is currently experiencing.

The government has declared eight provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), as disaster areas becausw of the insufficient rainfall. Many municipalities across the country have been forced to impose water restrictions as a result.

The authorities say despite the recent rainfall in many parts of South Africa there has been no significant change in levels at the country’s dams.

The eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality in KZN is one of many municipalities across the country which has been forced to impose water restrictions as a result of the on-going drought, which has affected not just South Africa but other countries in southern Africa as well.

Although the authorities say the rainfall in the past few days has brought some relief, dam levels remain relatively low.

Water restrictions have been lifted in the northern parts of the eThekwini metro after levels at the Hazelmere Dam made significant improvement over the past couple of months.

However, dam levels at Midmar in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, which is a key supply point in the province, continue to be of concern.

“Unfortunately the levels of the dams in that system are not looking too good largely because there has not been sufficient rainfall within the catchment of Midmar,” says Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harischunder.

“Midmar Dam on its own is presently at 50 per cent (capacity) and Albert Falls at 26 per cent. Now these are the two dams which are significantly important in terms of water supply to (the large cities of) Pietermaritzburg, Umgumgundlovu and much of Durban.

“Because of the fact that has not been adequate the catchment of these two dams and the fact there has been impact on the levels of the dams that means that 15 per cent water restrictions are presently in place.”

Meanwhile, the South African Weather Services says KwaZulu-Natal residents should brace themselves for more wet conditions as further downpours are predicted for this week.

“For today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) we are only expecting a 30 per cent chance of showers and thundershowers mostly over the western parts of the province. Going towards Wednesday precipitate looks like is only going to be confined to the southern parts of KwaZulu-Natal and yet again on Thursday 30% chance of showers and thundershowers and on Friday we are expecting 60 per cent chance of showers and thundershowers. Going on towards the weekend, its looks like once again people from KZN can expect a wet weekend but only a 30 per cent chance,” said forecaster Thandiswa Gumede on Monday.

The drought is allegedly the worst the country has experienced in decades. Water and Sanitation Department Spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase says despite the recent rains people should still continue to preserve water.

“While the rains are still very much welcome however there have not made a significant impact in as far as our dam levels are concerned. We are still in a serious situation where we need to use water wisely and save it,” adds Ndamase.

“The drought still remains. The opportunity that the rain presents is that as members of the public we can begin to harvest that rain water. We can begin to find ways of storing the water that we are receiving through the rain so that so that we do not lose it to drainage and downstream off runs.”

Four people have died and dozens others injured as a result of the weather conditions in KwaZulu-Natal, over the past two weeks. Authorities say disaster management teams remain on standby across the province.


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