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21 Nov 2022

Jozini residents warned of possible flooding as water released from Pongolapoort dam

Muzi Zincume (Zululand Observer) Picture: Water is being released from Pongolapoort dam

Communities in and around Jozini have been advised about the annual water release from Pongolapoort dam. The release is part of the Department of Water and Sanitation’s (DWS) operational rule in accordance with the 85% dam safety operational rule.

Conducted by DWS, the release began last Monday and will end on 13 December. DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau explained that the annual release from Pongolapoort dam was last carried out in 2014, and that it usually occurs in October.

“It was halted because of the drought experienced in KZN since 2015,” said Ratau.

“The province experienced high rainfall in April, resulting in flooding in parts of KZN. “Rains experienced at the beginning of the year also increased the dam’s capacity.

“The continuing water flows into the dam have caused Pongolapoort to rise to 78.9% capacity as of this week, thus the need for the release,” he said on Tuesday. Ratau explained that water from the dam would be released at the rate of 16 cubic meters per second, with a weekly variation depending on the expected inflows.

“We will continue to monitor the performance of the dam inclusive of all such inflows. With the flood hydrograph and the prevailing initial hydrological conditions on the floodplains, it is estimated that the release will address its objectives.

“While we 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 release that will lead to possible flooding of their areas of work or habitat.

“We have also informed Mozambique of the initial flood release from the dam. The communities of Jozini and surrounding areas are warned of the high water volumes in the wake of the release.
“This will lead to an increase of the water levels in the river and filling of the floodplains, with a potential impact on low-level bridges, subsistence farming, water pumping infrastructure, housing, and agriculture,” he said.