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Downpour boosts dam levels

Helderberg residents were treated to their own winter wonderland with heavy downpours, hail and snow bringing some much needed precipitation and providing a picturesque view of snowy mountain tops and lawns covered in hail.

Despite a rather late start to the winter, the area welcomed good rains over the past few weeks.

From Saturday 25 to Monday 27 August a total rainfall of 27,4 mm and 74,2 mm was measured for Strand and Elgin/Grabouw respectively.

According to Kate Turner, senior forecaster for the Cape Town Weather Office, the highest wind speed for Strand was recorded on Saturday at 61 km/h and 46 km/h for Elgin/Grabouw on Friday.

She confirmed snow was reported on both the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland mountain ranges.

The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre was on high alert following warnings from the SA Weather Services of an “intense cold front” over the province.

According to Charlotte Powell, spokesperson for the Disaster Risk Management Centre, numerous reports were received of flooded roadways and fallen trees, and several informal dwellings were affected by the heavy rains, but no emergency shelter was required.

No injuries were reported and the necessary role-players were contacted to assist with humanitarian relief.

Meanwhile, the rain has resulted in steadily rising dam levels.

According to the latest statistics, captured on Monday 27 August, dam storage levels have increased by another 1,9%, to reach 62%. Theewaterskloof Dam is up by 1,3% from last week, standing at 45,6%. Steenbras Lower is at 78,8%, Steenbras Upper at 101,3% and Land-en-Zeezicht at 100,0%.

The privately owned Eikenhof Dam, on the Palmiet River near Grabouw, is bursting at the seams. The dam measured at 106% this week, surpassing its capacity. The overflow is beneficial to the City, as Eskom has been assisting in pumping the overflow water into the Steenbras Dam (read more on page 28).

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said the City proposed a gradual relaxation of restrictions at a meeting with the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) on Friday 24 August.

“The City has advocated for a conservative relaxation of the restriction levels, which would pave the way for the associated relaxation of the restriction tariffs,” he explained.

“As the water supply situation has improved adequately, it is essential that an appropriate relaxation of restrictions take place as soon as possible, not only so that economic activity can be improved, but also so water tariffs can be relaxed from their current high levels, to give the necessary tariff relief to households and businesses.

“The City thanks its water users for continuing to use as little water as possible in an effort to preserve the water in our dams. This effort is helping to build a buffer against the summer months ahead.

“As always, we are grateful to our water users for all the effort and sacrifices that have been made to get us all through this extreme phenomenon.

“The City continues all programmes and initiatives to ensure that water usage remains as low as possible,” he added.

The DWS response to the City’s request is expected tomorrow (Friday).

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