Media release: Water flowing in the Olifants River brings some relief to drought-stricken farmers
For Immediate Release
13 December 2021
Widespread heavy rains over the past few weeks have resulted in areas in the Garden Route experiencing flash floods. Meteorologists globally attribute this phenomenon to a “La Niña” weather season.
Rains in the Klein Karoo resulted in the Olifants River (Afrikaans: Olifantsrivier) flowing again after being dry for an extended period. The last time the river had this much water was in 2006.
It rained twice a week in the Klein Karoo for the past month and the recent cloud burst over Oudtshoorn pushed large amounts of water into the Olifants River.
Mr Gerhard Otto, Head of Disaster Management at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) said that the GRDM, in conjunction with the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), are carefully monitoring the water levels of the Olifants and Gamka rivers. They are also keeping a close eye on the upstream river water levels of Calitzdorp Spa. “We have several early warning systems in place should the Spa be affected by flash floods,” said Otto.
Melanie Wilson, GRDM Manager, Economic Development and Tourism responded with enthusiasm about the rains by saying: “This is welcomed with open arms and will definitely give a break to the agricultural sector in that area.” She cautioned that the challenge still exists of the water running away from the area and that a system to store it is not in place yet. “This does not benefit the agricultural sector to the extent we’d like it to yet – those residing in the area barely cope with the severe drought that gripped the area for a few years”.
Otto agreed and noted that all possible measures should be taken to optimise every drop of rainwater, which is crucial for water-stressed areas like the Klein Karoo.
Although farmers are extremely grateful for each drop of water received, it must be noted that those who farm with stock, will only find themselves in a better position in about six weeks’ time. This is because grazing will become possible again, instead of having to rely on food pallets to feed the animals.
The levels of the major dams that provide drinking water for the Garden Route are as follows:
- Garden Route dam: 100% – Source of drinking water for George;
- Wolwedams dam:100,57% – Source of drinking water for Mossel Bay
- Koos Raubenheimer dam: 100 % – Source of drinking water for Oudtshoorn;
- Korente Vet/ Poort dam: 104,23% Source of drinking water for Riversdale;
- Duiwenhoks dam: 102,38% Source of drinking water for Heidelberg;
- Roodefontein dam: 102,1% – source of drinking water for Bitou; and
- Calitzdorp dam: 64,55%- Source of drinking water for Calitzdorp.
The levels of the dams that provide water for irrigation in the Klein Karoo are in stark contrast to those in the rest of the Garden Route and the community remains hopeful that this will change. The levels of Stompdrift and Kammanassie are currently below 6 and 4% respectively.
Caption: Feature image: Olifants River flowing again after an extended dry period.