Rains boost Albert Falls

Midmar Dam

Late summer rains make a difference

The beleaguered Albert Falls dam near Pietermaritzburg has had some welcome respite after recent solid rains and the latest rainfall data from Umgeni Water (Umgeni Water Amanzi water utility) shows the dam level has risen to just more than 40%. That’s a significant increase from a couple months ago when it was sitting at about 23%.

Although not a satisfactory state of affairs for this key Midlands dam (Umgeni Water system’s largest) which supplies PMB and Durban, the improvement is nevertheless welcome.

Another significant dam, the Inanda Dam (251.6m3) is just below 70% full.

In the Midlands area, Spring Grove, Mearns and Midmar (in picture) are all at full capacity, a good sign before the dry months ahead.

In a statement on its website the water utility states that parts of its operational area are still in a state of drought, a consequence of the El Nino effect. The affected areas are eThekwini, parts of iLembe District, Ixopo and uMgungundlovu District.

It noted that much of eThekwini and uMgungundlovu, including Pietermaritzburg, receives its water from the Mgeni system. Parts of this system (Midmar Dam, Spring Grove Dam, Mearns Dams, Albert Falls Dam, Nagle Dam and Inanda Dam) has experienced below average rainfall over the past 30 months, resulting in some of the dams remaining consistently at low levels.

This is why 15% water restrictions remained in some areas, despite solid rains in the past few months.

It also noted that water restrictions and use of emergency schemes had been effective in slowing down the drop in the levels of some dams within Umgeni Water’s operational area.

“Consumers within the affected areas have begun to appreciate the need for water conservation and for the implementation of water rationing and restrictions as a means to manage the effects of the drought.”