With Cape Town dam levels hitting a new high of 81.7% and average Western Cape dam levels set to top the psychological 65% mark, the agriculture and tourism sectors in the province are eyeing better prospects in coming months.
Both Cape Town’s and the provincial dam levels reached a four-year high in August, following the region’s worst drought in 100 years, which hit the agriculture, tourism and property sectors particularly badly.
The City of Cape Town’s latest Dam levels report shows that the Western Cape Water Supply System, comprising the region’s six largest dams, on Monday recorded another week of improvement, up 1.2% to 81.7%. This time last year, average dam levels in the system were at 59.6% while in 2017 they were at just 32.3%.
Two dams in the system, the Berg River and Steenbras Lower dams, are more than 100% full while Theewaterskloof, the city’s largest dam, surpassed the 70% mark last week. The national Department of Water and Sanitation said last week that average dam levels in the Western Cape were at 64.55%, a 12% increase on last year.
Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, tells said with the Western Cape receiving good rainfall in the past few weeks, wheat, barley and canola crops can expect higher yields. However, he is taking a “wait and see” approach with regards to the horticultural side, which includes table grape and wine grape production.
“While the recent rains have benefitted horticulture in the province, it is still too early to say what the positive impact will be. We need the good rains to continue into August and September to increase soil moisture content and to really boost horticulture.”
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, says Cape Town’s much-improved dam levels are “good news” for tourism. “Thankfully the drought situation was relatively short-lived, and we never reached ‘Day Zero’ in the city.