MBOMBELA – With below-normal rainfall and extreme heat come the immediate need to implement water restrictions for all agricultural-related irrigation out of the Crocodile River and all of its tributaries.
The tributaries include but are not limited to the catchments of the Alexanderspruit, Blinkwater, Buffelskloof, Elands, Gladdespruit, Gutshwa, Houtbosloop, Lunsklip, Nels, Nsikazi, Stads, Sand, Sterkspruit, Valyspruit, Visspruit, Kaap, White River and Zongagskraal rivers and their catchments.
This includes abstraction from any dam, surface water or groundwater resource within these catchments.
Low dam levels and extremely low flows in the Crocodile River
Due to significantly below-normal rainfall and the extremely high temperatures the region is currently experiencing, river flow levels in the Crocodile River and its tributaries are extremely low.
The environmental flow requirements and the needs of the water users are thus not being met in the lower portions of the rivers and further intervention is required. The Inkomati-Usuthu Water Management Area (IUCMA) is attempting to rectify the situation through increased releases from Kwena Dam under its management as well as imposing water restrictions; seven cubic metres per second were being released from Kwena Dam as from September 28, hence the rapid dropping of the dam’s levels which are currently on 64 per cent.
In terms of the operating rules in place for the Crocodile River, and in accordance with the duly delegated mandate, the IUCMA hereby imposes restrictions of at least 35 per cent on lawful water use allocation with immediate effect.
Any higher restrictions in force by any irrigation boards within these river catchments override these restrictions.
Any unlawful water uses are not permitted to abstract or store any water whatsoever and may be subject to a legal process for their permanent removal. Any water use greater than your lawful water use allocation must be immediately reduced to an amount equivalent to 35 per cent less than the lawful portion.
Furthermore, over and above the general restriction required above, no water user is permitted to completely stop the flow of water in a watercourse as a result of exercising their restricted abstraction or storage. A requisite flow sufficient for the ecological sustainability of the watercourse as well as the equitable use of all lawful water users downstream must be allowed to pass any abstraction point or storage dam at all times. This is determined on a case-by-case basis, but a general rule of thumb is to allow at least 30 per cent of the flow arriving to pass downstream. It could be much higher.
Lastly, all persons with lawful access to the storage in lawful dams must be allowed equitable use of the water in the dams by the owners of the said dams, after any water for reasonable domestic requirements, stock watering and the ecology are kept in reserve (hereinafter collectively referred to as the reserve). If the storage in any dam or watercourse is no longer able to supply water beyond the reserve, then all other water uses out of that resource must stop until it recovers.
The restrictions will remain in place until further notice, but will be increased to 60 per cent if the volume of Kwena Dam drops below 55 per cent.
These restrictions will be reviewed and may be amended at a later date.