Western Cape remains in grips of worst drought

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The Western Cape remains in the grips of the worst drought in living memory, but it seems there is some hope. Good rains have fallen in most parts of the province over the last few weeks resulting in an increase in dam levels.

It will however take several good rainy seasons to fully recover and water restrictions remain firmly in place.

In February this year the Theewaterskloof Dam was critically low at 11%. As the largest dam in the province and one of the main water sources to Cape Town, the Department of Water and Sanitation conducted emergency work to extract the little water that was left.

Now, after the first winter rain fall, things look slightly better. At 20%, it’s still severely low, but a vast improvement from three months ago.

The Du Toit’s river is flowing and run off from the mountains are helping, which is a welcomed sight.

The combined dam levels for the province sits at 24% compared to around 18% the same time last year.

WC Provincial government’s James-Brent Styan says: “We have seen ground water being used around the province quite a lot. So a lot of the rain around the province is going towards replenishing that and also the aquifers beside that replacing the surface water and increasing the dams so there’s always hope we’ve been working hard over the past three years to ensure that no area in the province ran out of drinking water.”

But the drought is a long way from over. Level 6b water restrictions remain in place in Cape Town.

They limit users to 50 litres of water per person per day.

“It’s a long way from being over and we need to continue to ask people to use as little water as possible, we have to allow our system to recover as much as possible over this winter period. The winter is when we normally get our rain so this rain isn’t strange so we have to allow the system to recover ahead of the coming summer months,” says Styan.

Water savings remain key. But every cloud moving in and above the province brings hope that more, and good downpours will come.