Hazelmere dam level up – for now

Shannon Hopkins
March 2, 2016
1411 Views

There has been a slight increase in the level of Hazelmere Dam, following about 70 mm rainfall over the past three weeks. As at 1 March 2016 the dam level was at 35, 06%.
However, the amount of water in the dam is not adequate to either ease of lift restrictions, says Shami Harichunder, Corporate Stakeholder Manager of Umgeni Water.
Water restrictions of 50% will remain in place until the situation improves.
Harichunder explained that a year ago the level of this dam was 47, 68%.
An emergency transfer scheme that was constructed by Umgeni Water at a cost of R34 million – this scheme transfers about 8Ml/d water from uThongathi River into Hazelmere Dam through a 7, 5km pipeline – has stabilised the level of this dam to mid-30%.
“If this emergency scheme was not constructed, Hazelmere Dam would have reached dead storage by now,” said Harichunder.
Dead storage means that surface water would have been depleted and all that would have been left in the dam is silt, which cannot be treated.
He said the Lower Thukela Bulkwater scheme, another means to augment supply, is still under construction.
This is a 55Ml/d scheme that is being constructed in Mandeni, iLembe District, at a cost of R1, 4 billion. Lower Thukela BWSS is one of the largest bulk potable water schemes to be implemented by Umgeni Water.
“It is also one of the largest bulk potable water schemes in KwaZulu-Natal. Construction is progressing well, and commissioning will begin in March 2016. The first water will flow through the 29km pipeline in April 2016,” said Harichunder.
The Lower Thukela BWSS will be able to take potable water as far south as Ballito – which will then free up some water in Hazelmere Dam for redirection to eThekwini. One of the benefits of this scheme is that it will alleviate the effects of the drought. If required in the future, this scheme can be expanded, enabling it to double its potable water production capacity from 55Ml/d to 110Ml/d. The source of raw water supply for this scheme is uThukela River, and the catchment for uThukela River is in the vicinity of Spionkop Dam, outside Ladysmith.
“The current water shortages are as a result of the El Nino weather phenomenon. This phenomenon occurs irregularly, meaning it does not have a pattern for appearance.”
El Nino has three characteristics: it can cause floods, below average rainfall and droughts. Southern Africa has already experienced a prolonged drought that began two years ago. One of the manifestations of El Nino in KwaZulu-Natal is below-average rainfall.
As a result of below-average rainfall – meaning less than the amount that is generally received in the wet seasons of spring and summer – and high temperatures (high temperatures cause evaporation of surface water), dam levels have been negatively affected.
“At this time of the year most – if not all – dams should be full to capacity or overflowing. This is, however, not the case as most dams are well below the levels they had been in in previous years,” explained Harichunder.

 

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has projected in its latest analysis that if good rainfalls occur, it will only be realised towards the end of 2016. It is scenarios of this nature that have prompted Umgeni Water, a bulk potable water provider to municipalities, to reduce potable water production at its plants and request municipalities to implement measures that will result in reduction in water usage, ranging from 15% (as is the case in the Mgeni system) and 50% (as is the case in the Hazelmere Treatment Works supply area and Ixopo WTW supply area).

 

The levels of most dams in the whole of the Umgeni Water operational area are lower than they had been a year ago.
Umgeni Water is concerned about below-average rainfall in the Midmar and Albert Falls catchments. This situation has resulted in both dams being at their lowest levels in 35 years. Midmar Dam is a key source of water supply to Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg), uMgungundlovu, eThekwini and parts of Ugu. As a result of the deteriorating situation relating to the amount of water in Midmar and Albert Falls, cuts in water usage amounting to 15% have been implemented in the supply areas of Midmar Water Treatment Works. This measure was necessary in order to avert a crisis situation that could have occurred by end 2016. If good rains are not realised, demand remains at its present level and high temperatures continue, Midmar and Albert Falls could reach dead storage by end 2016, meaning there would be no water left in these dams.

 

Umgeni Water is urging all consumers in the Mgeni system supply areas to reduce their water consumption by 15%. If water savings are achieved now, the amount of water in Midmar and Albert Falls could last until the next rains come.

 

The state of other Umgeni Water systems:

South Coast system

EJ Smith Dam as at 1/3/’16 = 92, 98%. A year ago the level of this dam was 74, 41%
Nungwane = 60, 99% as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 63, 43%.
Umzinto = 99, 76% as at 1/3/’16. Water is being transferred into this dam through an emergency scheme from Mpampinyoni River. The emergency scheme was constructed by Umgeni Water at a cost of R30 million. A year ago the level of this dam was 99, 76%.
Ixopo system

The level of Ixopo Dam as at 1/3/’16 is 22, 2%. There has been a slight improvement from its low of 12% due to water being transferred into it through an emergency scheme that was constructed by Umgeni Water. A year ago the level of this dam was 103, 42% and overflowing.
Mgeni System

Midmar = 46, 17% as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 74, 893%
Spring Grove = 84, 86% as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 96, 76%
Mearns Dam = 79, 75 as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 82, 9%
Albert Falls = 37, 19% as a 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 72, 89%
Nagle = 75, 41% as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 75, 37%
Inanda = 79, 23% as at 1/3/’16. A year ago the level of this dam was 94, 2%

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