Slight relief for Kouga Dam following good rainfall

Good rainfall less than two weeks ago in the catchment area of the Kouga Dam near Patensie in the Eastern Cape, has resulted in an increase in the dam’s water level, but was not nearly enough to turn the dam’s dire water supply challenges around.

Slight relief for Kouga Dam following good rainfall

“While the rain was welcome, the Kouga Dam’s water level is still critically low [but as a result of] the rain, we were able to postpone our Day Zero from the beginning of March to the end of April,” CEO of the Gamtoos Irrigation Board (GIB), Pierre Joubert said.

The Kouga Dam, currently stood at 10,2% of capacity after it reached an all-time low of 7,1% prior to the rain, he said. “The dam’s level would have dropped to 5%, had it not been for the rain.”

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The rain also brought some relief for many farmers in the Gamtoos Valley. According to Joubert, 200 citrus, vegetable, and dairy farmers in the valley were dependent on water from the Kouga Dam to irrigate their crops.

“The valley received an average precipitation of between 20mm and 50mm that increased soil moisture, which is especially helpful, as two of the farmers have already exhausted their water quotas for the year,” he explained

However, the drought had already taken its toll. According to Joubert, fewer vegetables had been planted this season, while this season’s citrus harvest was also expected to be much smaller, as farmers had to reduce irrigation levels to orchards.

He told Farmer’s Weekly that despite these adverse conditions, farmers tried to remain positive as good rainfall was usually received during March.

The drought was, however, not only affecting farmers: “The whole community is affected by the current drought. There is no [economic activity] other than agriculture here.”

Joubert added that about 10 000 permanent farmworkers were employed in the Gamtoos Valley, and farmers would try to keep them employed for as long as possible.

However, seasonal workers would feel the impact of the drought as a result of a significantly smaller citrus harvest this year.

 

Jeandré Du Preez is the newest addition to the Farmer’s Weekly team. Originating from a Riversdal farming family, she has farming in her blood. After school she furthered her studies at Stellenbosch and has been working as an agricultural journalist for the past two years. She says she feels privileged to write about an industry paramount to the survival of all South Africans and is inspired by the innovative solutions with which the farming community bridges the many challenges they face. She enjoys being able to combine work with travel and appreciates the modesty and friendliness with which South Africa’s farmers share their accomplishments. She enjoys being able to combine work with travel and appreciates the modesty and friendliness with which South Africa’s farmers share their accomplishments. If she is not writing or visiting farms, you’ll find her relaxing with a good mystery novel or exploring her other passions: travelling and cooking.