The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) weekly dam levels report showed that during winter dam levels had plummeted by “15% since the declining by an average one percent week-on-week” said its spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.
Early rains in September provided hope for farmers as it managed to replenish soil moisture levels. Free State topped with the highest dam levels, recording 76.9% of capacity in the early week of September.
All provinces in the country showed signs of recovery except for the Eastern Cape province. Dams such as Kouga and Waterdown remained way below 50%.
The heavy snow falls in late August also propelled Eastern Cape to stabilise the water situation quite considerably.
According to the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) Soil, Climate and Water Campus – the current water dam levels were problematic for farmers in the Eastern Cape “as common agricultural practices such as cattle and sheep production were most likely to be negatively affected if the conditions persisted.”
Using its Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) Map, the ARC survey for August showed that the less rains had extremely stressed vegetation planting in the western half of the Eastern Cape with low activity planting recorded.
Despite this, the ARC said the situation would change as the weather outlook for the season showed the province is expected to experience above normal rainfall.
“When considering the all-year rainfall region which is situated in the southern belt of the province, the mildly wet conditions that were observed are an indication of above-normal rainfall that was experienced during the month of August. Other areas of concern include adjacent parts of the southern Free State and Karoo during this period, raising drought risk concerns for agricultural activities in these areas” it said.
ARC also warned of heavy fire activity in the Free State, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal.