Major dams drying up

News and Press Release
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08 Mar 2013 - Story by Paulus Paulus

WINDHOEK - There has been no significant inflows of water into three major dams serving the central areas of the country, a situation that could cause a debilitating water shortage in the capital should prevailing dry conditions persist.

Officials earlier this week indicated that Windhoek could face water rationing for the first time in many years because of this imminent crisis. The three dams that are a lifeline for Windhoek and whose water levels are below average are Von Bach, Omatako and Swakoppoort. City of Windhoek spokesman, Joshua Amukugo, told a media briefing in Windhoek yesterday that there have been no significant water inflows into the Von Bach, Omatako and Swakoppoort dams.

“Dam levels are substantially lower than the same time last year and total water in storage in the central area dams as on 25 February 2013 was 54 percent compared to 91 percent on 27 February 2012,” he said. In February 2013, Windhoek only received a mere 29.8mm of rain compared to the 180.2mm that it received in February 2012 and the 175.1mm it received in February 2011. Windhoek usually has an average rainfall of 152.1mm in January and an average of 151mm in February.

Recently, New Era carried a lead story in which the city requested all customers within Windhoek and the Von Bach dam supply scheme area to use water sparingly to ease pressure on the underground reservoirs supplying the city.

According to Ferdi Brinkman, the chief engineer in the Bulk Water and Waste Water Division of the Windhoek Municipality, residents consume 24 million cubic metres of water on an annual basis, and should there be no further inflows into the Von Bach, Omatako and Swakoppoort dams by the next rainy season, the dams could dry up by August 2014 creating an unprecedented crisis in the central areas they serve.

But Amukogo said there is no reason to panic yet, adding that authorities in the central areas have to ensure that there is enough water that can effectively be supplied for two seasons without additional water inflow into the three dams. “It is therefore necessary for consumers in Windhoek and along the Von Bach-Windhoek pipeline to curb demand and exercise demand management strategies,” Amukugo urged. He said residents should shun watering gardens between 10h00 and 16h00 and they should refrain from using hosepipes to wash cars. He also urged residents to cover private swimming pools when not in use to minimise evaporation.

He further announced that NamWater is in the process of upgrading the transfer capacity of the Von Bach-Windhoek water system to increase the capacity of water pump stations in the system. Water supply will be shut down for 48 hours on May 18-19, June 15-16 and August 17-18 2013.

Meanwhile, NamWater spokesperson Tomm Numbala said the shortage of water will not only affect Windhoek. “I am therefore encouraging the different town councils and residents to use water sparingly,” he said.