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River stops flowing as drought deepens

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 February 2010

George’s drought crisis deepened yesterday after the Touw River, which supplies the Wilderness area with water, stopped flowing.

Garden Route Dam at 26% in Oct 09.

George senior civil engineering services manager Harold Basson said yesterday: “I received very disturbing news this morning that the Touw River has for all practical purposes stopped flowing. This means that supply is now from George and places an enormous extra burden on the Garden Route Dam.”

Calling on residents to redouble their water-saving efforts, he said: “It is bad news, especially since the Garden Route Dam is now only 18,4% full.”

Wilderness, Wilderness Heights, Kleinkrantz and Touwsranten normally receive their water from the Touw River, which is treated at the Ebb and Flow treatment plant in Wilderness.

At peak consumption times, the supply is augmented from the George water system, where the Garden Route Dam is fed by the Swart and Kat rivers. “The Swart and Kat rivers are still flowing, but at a greatly reduced rate,” Basson said.

The Wilderness area’s daily 1,3-megalitre consumption is now adding additional pressure to the reserves of the Garden Route Dam. With George consuming about 23Ml a day, Basson said, the dam would have enough water until July. “At that time the re-use of treated waste water project should be completed.”

The town’s boreholes, being sunk to the deep Table Mountain aquifer some 200m or more underground, should also be connected to the system by then. It is expected that they be connected to the town’s water supply by mid-March. “These extra sources should add 14Ml a day to the system. This should stabilise the situation at that stage,” Basson said.

In 2006/07, when floods devastated the Garden Route, Wilderness residents had to rely on George for water as their pipelines were washed away. Other rivers in the Garden Route, including the Gouna, Knysna and Keurbooms, are under stress as the drought, the worst in more than 130 years, grips the Southern Cape.

Source: The Herald

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