Water levels in Southern Africa continue to rise

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 21 January 2011

As South Africa declares a national disaster due to flooding, other countries in the region hold their breath while water levels continue to rise.

The Zambezi is much higher than is normal for this time of year

With dozens dead and damages exceeding $50 million across eight of its nine provinces, South Africa is experiencing its heaviest floods in years. The Orange River, which runs 2,300 kilometres from Lesotho east to the Atlantic Ocean at the Namibian-South African [border], has reached its highest level in decades.

“The floods are earlier than previous years,” says Maria Amakali, Namibia’s Director of Water Resource Management who sits on the Orange-Senqu River Commission. “Irrigation schemes on the border are flooded, lodges are under water and some small communities are flooded to the point they don’t have drinking water, because the water treatment plants are submerged.”

The Zambezi

“The water in the Zambezi is much higher than is normal for this time of year,” Guido van Langenhove told IPS. “This morning we measured three metres at Katima Mulilo, normally it should be half that.” The Zambezi is considered to be flooding when the water level breaks through the 6-metre mark. Continue reading

Orange River flood warning

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 11 January 2011

The water affairs department on Tuesday warned of flooding along the banks of the Orange River in the Northern Cape.

Orange River in flood 2010 - Upington. Photo by Daniel Swart

The department said flooding could occur downstream from the confluence of the Vaal and Orange rivers.

“Residents are urged to take extra care as fast rising water levels are expected,” the department said in a statement.

A flood peak of 5 140m³ per second was expected for Upington on Thursday.

In the Vaal and Orange River catchment, the Vaal Dam is currently 101% full and the outflow has been reduced to 1 120m³ per second.

A total of 10 flood gates remained open. Four were closed early on Tuesday.

The capacity of the Bloemhof dam was at 98% and was expected to increase to 101% by Thursday.

At the Gariep Dam, the outflow was 2 300m³ per second and the capacity was 117%.

The Vanderkloof Dam stood at 113% with an outflow of 2 430m³ per second.

– Sapa

Nine power stations for Lower Orange River

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 09 November 2010

Namibia’s national power utility says plans are moving ahead to construct a series of hydro-electric power stations along the Lower Orange River.

Orange River hydroelectric power project to begin in 2013. Photo by 'coda' under Creative Commons 2.0

NamPower Managing Director Paulinus Shilamba told IPS that they are now finalising a study on the project with a South African company, Clarkson Power, with whom they signed a memorandum of understanding with last year.

The Lower Orange Hydroelectrical Power Scheme will include up to nine run-of-the-river generating stations on a stretch of the river with the potential to generate between 90 and 120 megawatts of power. Shilamba said Nampower expects to generate 45 megawatts from the first two installations.

“We are going to develop the power generating project in two phases, with the first two sites to be developed by 2013,” he said.

Reporting on the utility’s call for tenders, online publication Engineering News said the scheme calls for water to be diverted through 70 kilometres of underground tunnels and five km of canals to drive turbines and produce electricity. Continue reading

Orange River baptism alert

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 02 April 2010

The Department of Water Affairs has warned those taking part in baptisms or recreational activities along the Orange River in the Free State over the Easter holidays to be careful.

Vanderkloof Dam. Photo by JackySnappy2010.

“Whether people intend to use the river for baptism or recreational purposes, they should always be aware of the dangers that a river or any body of water holds,” spokesperson Kido Nkonyane said yesterday.

She said the region had received very good rainfall over the past few months and rivers were flowing strongly in some areas.

It would not be advisable to use the Orange River between the Gariep and Vanderkloof dams and in close proximity to the Vanderkloof dam wall for baptisms or recreation, as both dams were more than 98 percent full and water releases might occur.

“People are advised not to enter fast flowing rivers and be careful not to baptise, swim or paddle in areas close to dam walls, in case of releases from the dam.”

Releases could be expected at any time of the day below the Gariep Dam for hydro-power generation.

She said during water releases the water level below the dam could increase by a metre in as little as 15 minutes, making the river a very dangerous place to be in.

Nkonyane advised people to let the local police station know when a river baptism was going to place.

– Sapa

Drinking water shortage looms following flood surge

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 24 February 2010

Close to 10 000 residents at Aussenkehr in southern Namibia face a severe shortage of drinking water after floodwater from South Africa raised the level of the Orange River.

Orange River. Photo by 'coda' under Creative Commons 2.0

The river level started rising after floodwater discharged from the upstream Vaal and Bloemhof dams reached Noordoewer on Friday.

The General Manager of Namibia Grape Company, Gideon Nuunyango, yesterday told The Namibian that the flood surge damaged water pumps in the river and the area is now dependent on a reservoir. “If the situation persist for weeks, then we foresee a water crisis,” said Nuunyango. He said the broken water pumps mean that crops next to the river can’t be irrigated.

The regional councillor for the Karasburg Constituency, Paulus Efraim, said his office had informed the Local Government Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office of the threatening water crisis. Plans are to transport water containers to the tiny settlement.

NamWater official Felix Kennedy said the river level yesterday stood at seven metres and had been rising by three centimetres a day since the discharge from dams in South Africa.

Kennedy said floodwater had started overflowing onto irrigation schemes along the Orange River.

Source: The Namibian