Dam levels remain low

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WINDHOEK – Despite good rains recorded in February and March this year the levels of the main dams in the central areas of the country and the south have only improved marginally according to Namwater’s latest dam bulletin.

The exception is the Naute Dam near Keetmanshoop, whose water level have shot up by almost 10 percent in the past two week. The biggest dam in Namibia is now 66.8 percent full, compared to 61.1 percent in the corresponding period last year. The level of the Hardap Dam near Mariental increased by 3.1 percent and now stands at 44.5 percent of its full capacity, compared to 44.7 in the corresponding period last year. The only other dam whose level rose slightly is the Swakoppoort Dam. This major water supplier is now 59.8 percent full, compared to 66.1 percent last year at the same time.

The sub-total for dams in the central areas has only improved by 1.014 percent, while inflows into dams in the south have resulted in an increase of 12.922 percent in terms of the sub-total. The levels of the Von Bach, Omatako, Friedenhau and the Oanob dams have dropped slightly since the release of the last dam bulletin and this has once again raised concerns over medium- to long-term water supplies to the central areas.

The Swakoppoort Dam is now 59.8 percent full, compared to 66.1 percent last year at the same time, while the Oanob Dam is 53.9 percent full (63.1 percent last year) and the level of the Daan Viljoen Dam has shot up to 100.5 percent. While the slight improvements were greeted with excitement, Namibia’s central areas are by no means out of the woods yet, as far as water supply is concerned. Grave concern has been mounting amongst role players about the ever-deteriorating situation of water levels in Namibia’s major dams and this has prompted the City of Windhoek since the beginning of the year to warn residents about the precarious water situation and urged them to make every drop count. Reminding Windhoek residents about water restrictions that were imposed already last year, the manager of corporate communications of the Windhoek municipality, Joshua Amukugo Amukugo, says the water supply situation will be reassessed at the end of the current rainy season, which is  now drawing to a close and warned that tighter restrictions might be on the cards if the situation remains unchanged. The current water restrictions imposed by the Windhoek municipality include a ban on the use of hosepipes to wash cars, the mandatory covering of private swimming pools and no watering of gardens between 10h00 and 16h00.

Government already recognised the imminent water crisis at the beginning of the year, when it launched a N$7.6 million pre-feasibility study to investigate all alternative water sources, which could be developed to secure a long-term, affordable water solution for the central areas, as well as parts of the Omaheke and Otjizondupa regions and the Cuvelai delta. Launching the project in partnership with the City of Windhoek, Namwater and various local water experts, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa stressed that Windhoek’s run-away growth in population and economic activities has prompted the urgent study. Total water storage in the three central area dams plummeted to 36.6 percent in February compared to their 91 percent capacity levels in February 2012 and 63.3 percent in February 2013. The average level now stands at 37.253 percent after slight increases in the levels of some of the major dams. Fears of Windhoek – the economic hub of the central areas – running dry, mounted when recent modelling predicted shortfalls in water supply by 2020, based on a median scenario, and this will be much earlier if Namibia experiences more poor rainfall in the years to come, independent experts have warned.



By Deon Schlechter