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While North Coast residents are concerned at the recent drop in the level of Hazelmere Dam, Umgeni Water says there is nothing to be worried about.
After peaking at around 70 percent capacity after the last rainfall season, Hazelmere has hovered at around 60 percent for most of the winter.
“In the period first week of November it suddenly dropped from 62 to 52 percent full with the outflow at 1.25 cubic meters per second,” said resident Peter Frankle.
Shami Harichunder, corporate stakeholder manager at Umgeni Water, explained that they were operating the dam at levels advised by experts, as is mandatory in terms of the Dam Safety Act while construction is underway to raise the dam wall and increase the capacity of Hazelmere.
“Construction is scheduled for completion at a later stage, hence the dam has not been fully impounded because of safety concerns,” he said.
Harichunder did not specify when they expected work to be completed.
Construction is still underway to raise the level of the Hazelmere Dam.
“The current operating rule is to maintain the dam level at 53.8 percent to mitigate possibility of the dam overflowing in a flood scenario. In September 2018 and for a while after that water releases were increased to achieve the targeted level; the releases have since been reduced.”
Harichunder said if the former operating rule had been in effect (prior to the wall being raised), the dam level would have been at 112% and spilling.
The current level, at 53,8%, indicates that raising of the wall had resulted in capacity of the dam being almost double, thereby mitigating against effects of future droughts or water shortages.
The Water and Sanitation department is raising the wall by seven metres, which will increase capacity from 17 million kilolitres to 37 million kl, an increase of 218 percent.