Residents of Gauteng and large parts of the interior rejoiced as dam levels reached the 90% mark, with authorities lifting water restrictions that have been in place since 2016.
In the Western Cape, unfortunately, we are still staring down the barrel of a gun, as far as short to medium term water security is concerned, says Cobus Meiring of the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI).
Good and persisting rain, throughout the region, implies rapidly improving grazing, and restoring conditions conducive to planting, with soils recovering from the protracted drought.
Longer term recovery from the drought may well be with us for a good few years to come.
Many farmers were struck hard by the drought, and may well not be able to benefit from the good rains.
Herds of live stock were dramatically reduced and scaled down, or completely done away with.
Emerging and commercial farmers alike felt the brunt of the drought, and because of slow recovery cycles, not one but at least three consecutive years of rain is required for farmers to ensure recovery and sustainability.
The severe drought and continued water stress, combined with land uncertainty, crime and rural safety issues, does not bode well for SA’s socio- economic future.
Are we doing enough to survive the next drought?
“Despite the good rains”, says Water and Sanitation Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane: “this does not mean residents should now stop using water sparingly. We trust that the lessons learnt on responsible water use will become a norm and a way of life for us all, and that we’ll adapt to the realities of being a water-scarce country”.
In for example, the Southern and Western Cape, we know that vast amounts of water are used by invasive alien plants. Outreach campaigns to entice landowners to control and eradicate invasive alien plants are, however, having limited effects, and more needs to be done.
Increasingly we come to the realization that water evaporation rates are having a profound effect on water levels in storage dams.
Putting further pressure on consumers, almost 10% of water in the Western Cape storage dams evaporates per month.
SCLI is currently supporting the development of a number of South African technology options, which (if implemented), may well have a significant impact on the way irrigation farmers manage their water reserves.
In due course, it is hoped that the authorities that be, will realize the stabilizing effect on our water resources, should we be able to reduce water evaporation, through the use of technology.
The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), is a public platform for landowners and land managers with an interest in the control and eradication of Invasive Alien Plants SCLI is supported by the Table Mountain Fund (TMF).