• July 4th, 2020

Hardap farmers want Cabinet directive suspended

 Anwar Thomas

MARIENTAL – The Hardap Irrigation Farmers Union has called on the government to lift a Cabinet directive on the operational capacity of the Hardap Dam. 

The Cabinet decision was taken soon after the 2006 floods that saw NamWater place a stringent restriction on the authorities to limit the water mass to 70% of total capacity until a permanent solution is found. 
Cabinet had made a number of recommendations to NamWater, among others also to permanently remove the reeds in the watercourse of the Fish River. 

It is believed that the blockage of the river’s flow poses a significant flood risk. 
Speaking to New Era this week, the chairperson of the irrigation farmers union, Dawie de Klerk, said he has pleaded for the lifting of the moratorium with the relevant authorities. 
De Klerk noted that since the start of irrigation farming in 1963, the dam level had never reached such low level like the current one. 

“We have never been in such a position before,” he remonstrated, adding that NamWater had operationalised early warning systems on the supposed inflow at all measuring stations in the dam’s catchment area. 
“The early warning systems in place enable NamWater to precisely measure the supposed inflows to avert flood risk,” said De Klerk. 

Just last week, the dam level stood at 6,5%, but thanks to significant rains in the catchment area the level had risen to 21,7% on Monday afternoon. 

When asked on future contingency plans of his union, De Klerk noted that the banks of the Fish River are on hard rock making the drilling of boreholes costly. 
“Besides there is no aquifer in the Hardap basin,” he added. 

De Klerk said attempts were made as early as January to drill two boreholes in Hardap basin, but which yielded negative results.

“Drilling in the Hardap basin is too costly and economically unsustainable.” 
He hinted that the only aquifer is close to Stampriet and long-term plans were mooted to interconnect with Hardap to secure a lasting solution. 

In the short term, the irrigation farmers implemented an irrigation policy of 60%-40% as water saving measure. 

De Klerk, who served on the recently established Hardap Task Force, said the dam’s structural integrity is intact, thus excluding the possibility of the dam wall collapsing. 
Questions sent to NamWater early this week were not yet answered at the time of going to press. 

Staff Reporter
2020-02-27 06:46:12 | 4 months ago

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