Durban – Are you living on the south-eastern side of the Jozini dam in northern KwaZulu-Natal? If yes, then brace yourself for flooding, as authorities will be releasing water from one of the biggest dams in the country.
The process will start on Monday and run until December 13, the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) announced on Friday.
It said the water release from the dam, which is also known as the Pongolapoort dam, was last done in 2014.
It was then halted because of the drought that KZN was experiencing since 2015. The dam water release normally happens during October of every year.
“In April 2022, KZN experienced high rainfall that resulted in flooding parts of KZN. 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.
“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 DWS 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, it is estimated that the release will be able to address its objectives,” the department said.
In the statement announcing the controlled process which is undertaken to ensure that the dam’s level remains at 85%, the safest level, the department said that while it does not anticipate challenges, communities should be alerted in advance.
“While the DWS 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. 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,” it said.
The Jozini dam was built in 1973 and it was solely for the use of white commercial sugar cane farmers. Recently, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, granted the Umkhanyakude district municipality a licence to draw water and supply households.