The Department of Water and Sanitation will in the next four weeks release water at the Pongolapoort Dam, popularly known as Jozini Dam, in the north of KwaZulu-Natal.
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The annual dam water release from the Pongolapoort Dam is part of the department’s operational rule in accordance with the 85% dam safety operational rule.
In a statement on Friday, the department said the upcoming annual dam water release will start on 14 November 2022 and finish on 13 December 2022.
The last annual dam water release from Pongolapoort Dam was done in 2014 and it was halted due to drought experienced by the province since 2015.
“The dam water release normally happens during the October month of every year. In April 2022, the KZN experienced high rainfall that resulted in flooding parts of KZN.
“Rains experienced at the beginning of 2022 resulted in an increase of the dam’s capacity. The continuing water inflows into the dam has caused the dam to rise to 78, 9% of capacity as off this week, and thus the need for the release,” department spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said.
Ratau said water from the dam will be released at the rate of 16 cubic meters per second with a weekly variation depending on the expected inflows.
The department will continue to monitor the performance of the dam inclusive of all such inflows of the dam.
With the flood hydrograph and the prevailing initial hydrological conditions on the floodplains, Ratau said, it is estimated that the release will be able to address its objectives.
While the department will operate and ensure the dam remains safe and operating optimally, it is critical for the communities downstream to be made aware that there is a need for water releases that will lead to possible flooding of their areas of work or habitat.
He said the department has also consulted the neighbouring country of Mozambique of the initial flood release from the dam.
“The communities of Jozini and surrounding areas are warned of the high-water volumes emanating from the dam water release. This will lead to an increase of the water levels of the river, filling of the flood plains with a potential impact on low level bridges, subsistence farming, water pumping infrastructure, housing and agriculture,” Ratau said.
Positive responses to warnings of imminent flooding and necessary evacuation if need will assist in ensuring safety of lives and livelihoods, he said. ■