GEORGE NEWS - Georgians were elated and farmers sighed with relief after a steady downpour through Friday night and Saturday.
The Garden Route Dam level stood at 52,14% yesterday (Wednesday 20 September), up 10,93% from last week.
But, warns George Municipal Manager Trevor Botha, Section 2C water restrictions and emergency tariffs will remain in place for at least two more months.
Farmer Johan van Greunen from Van Greunen Farms said they were grateful to see rivers flowing after about 60mm fell in the Geelhoutboom and airport areas, and even on farms closer to the sea.
Farms nearer to the mountain received a little bit more rain. "Because the rain fell over a period of 24 hours, the soil is wet deep down, but the crisis with the big irrigation dams is not over yet. They are mostly still empty as the soil soaked up most of the water. We are extremely grateful, though. The rain came at just the right time for the recently planted pastures that will now grow well in coming weeks. Farmers will soon be making silage."
Van Greunen said on the farm of the Du Toit brothers in Herold about 30mm was recorded.
George Municipality recorded 82mm since Friday 15 September. On Monday the dam level had already risen to 51,45%.
Botha said water is expected to filter into the dam for a few weeks to come, since the extended catchment area also received significant rain.
According to rainfall figures supplied by the South African Weather Bureau, the Tierkop measuring station recorded 115,6mm, Witfontein 84,8mm, Waboomskraal 208,2mm, Glentana 50mm, Groot-Brakrivier 35mm, Wilderness 61mm, Herold 59,8mm, Knysna 54,4mm and Plettenberg Bay 24,2mm (Plett Newlands 47,6mm).
Farmers on the other side of the Outeniquas who are trying to bear up under a severe drought, were not so fortunate. Weeber Truter, angora farmer from Agri Herold Farmers Association, said the rain passed by his farm and the area from Mount Hope, Zebra and Klipdrif to Kamanassie. "The pastures we have planted have germinated, but are now drying out. I already sold 1 300 goats and am hoping to sell another 1 000, but there is no market as areas suited to goats are all experiencing drought. I have been on the farm my whole life, but have never experienced a drought like this. We are praying and hoping."
'Adopt water saving as a permanent lifestyle'
Municipal Manager Trevor Botha said although the sustained rain had a significant, positive impact on the dam level for the first time since water restrictions were implemented in June this year, citizens must continue saving water.
"Even if the Section 2C tariffs are lifted, Section 2B restrictions will be applicable up to the 60% dam level mark, again for at least two months thereafter.
"Other considerations include the potential impact of the summer holiday season on water usage.
"Long-term weather predictions for the Western Cape indicate a long, hot summer ahead of us, so everything we save now, is an investment in our city's water security. In fact, we ask all citizens to make water saving a permanent lifestyle. Our town is growing and water supply will be impacted, no matter how many measures we put in place. If we all want to keep living here, we must all work towards sustainable water security."
Locals are still using too much water, with the total average consumption being
28 megalitres per day.
"For long-term sustainability, consumption should be at most 22 megalitres per day, based on the current water situation."
The Section 2C restrictions limit household consumption to 15 kilolitres per month or 480 litres per day, after which emergency tariffs apply.
Report water leaks, burst pipes and other water-related concerns to the Civil Engineering Department, on 044 801 9262 or after hours on 044 801 6300. Contravention of water restrictions can be reported on 0800 424 277. Repeat offenders can expect to pay up to R4 000 per offence, depending on the offence, or be jailed for up to six months if found guilty.
Truter appealed to trucking companies to help with transport of fodder.
"We can obtain fodder, but the transport costs are high. Farmers can cover the fuel costs, but it would be greatly appreciated if companies can make trucks available."
Anyone who can help, may contact Patrys on 044 888 1626 or Weeber Truter on
044 888 1722.
Read related articles:
• Water restrictions still in place
• Business guide to water restrictions
• George citizens must halve water usage
• Residents have to cut water usage
• Stricter water restrictions, higher tariffs underway
ARTICLE & PHOTO: ALIDA DE BEER, GEORGE HERALD JOURNALIST
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