Showers ‘won’t raise dam levels’ in third dry year
THREE years of low rainfall have pulled Cape Town and the rest of the province into one of its worst droughts. However, this week will bring some showers, but not enough to bring dam levels up to capacity.
The latest levels for the province are at 35.8 percent, while the city’s dams stand at 37.5 percent. These figures are significantly lower in comparison to the same time last year.
Thabisile Ntleko, forecaster for the South African Weather Service, said a cold front was expected to pass through tomorrow morning. It would bring rain and showers for most of the province, but the Central Karoo might be excluded.
“Rainfall amounts range between five and 10mm, reaching 20-25mm in places over the south-western parts of the province. Temperatures are expected to drop significantly for Monday, reaching mid to high teens over most of the province.”
She said there was a chance of snow on the western mountains from tomorrow evening.
“Strong winds and very rough sea conditions are possible along the south-west and south coast from Monday evening into Tuesday.
“Light rain might still be expected for the south-west and the south coast for Tuesday, mainly in the morning.”
She said records showed that, since 2015, below average annual rainfall had been recorded for the province. This year had been the lowest so far.
UCT climate scientist Peter Johnston said a possible reason for this was that current temperatures were increasing at a rate not seen in years.
This, he said, was due to excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which led to global warming and climate change. He explained that it was “a natural phenomenon”.
This year marked the third dry year for the city, Johnston added. The statistical odds of this occurring were low and “unexpected” and “this drought ... is worse than any other we have experienced”.
He said there would be rain in the future, but whether it would be enough to recover from the drought was the real question. If it rained normally next year, it should rain in April, May and June, which did not happen this year.
If it did not rain next year, we would be “in a very dangerous and sad situation”.
“At this point there is no indication that it is going to be a dry winter.”
Johnston said the situation could never have been predicted, but after two dry years, you have to prepare for the worst case scenario.
He believed that desalination would help with the water shortage, but would “have a massive impact on budgets”.
Desalination plants are part of the city’s plans to alleviate the water shortage.
Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee member for Informal settlements,Water and Waste services and Energy, said all commissioned water would come into the system at different times and “we are working to provide about 250 million litres per day by February 2018”.
“Tenders for small-scale desalination plants at Hout Bay, Granger Bay, Dido Valley, Monwabisi and Strandfontein have been released ... Procurement for aquifer abstraction is expected to commence in the next two weeks,” she said.
Limberg added that there were no further plans for water restrictions, but “the city will constantly enhance measures within the bounds of Level 5 restrictions to improve compliance by households that have not reduced consumption.”