Communities along Vaal urged to move to high lying areas

The Department of Water and Sanitation has urged all communities along the Vaal Dam and Orange River to consider evacuating and move to high lying areas as water levels rise.

This as 12 flood gates were opened at the Vaal Dam, and outflow at the Bloemhof Dam has been increased to 3000 cubic metres per second.

“All residents of settlements (and in towns) along the banks of the Lower Vaal and Lower Orange Rivers should consider evacuating or moving to higher places that are at least above the 1 in 20- year flood line (a level at which people would likely be safer to be reached by water emanating from the releases).

“These communities should refer to municipal development plans, Local Authorities and Disaster Management Agencies for locations of these flood lines. The water release increases are necessitated by the continuous and intense rainfall that is causing rivers to overflow and dams to spill,” said the department in a statement.

The department appealed to all communities along the Vaal and Orange Rivers, especially those along the banks of lower Vaal and Lower Orange Rivers to remain vigilant of possible flooding and to consider evacuating and moving to high lying areas as water levels rise.

The department also urged farmers to remove livestock, movable properties and equipment out and away from the riverbanks. It further urged the general community to avoid any activity that may put their lives in harm.

“The Vaal and Orange River System is experiencing rapid rising water levels due to the heavy rains and the department continues to assess and implement measures to mitigate effects of these floods on its infrastructure and guarantee full capacity on its storage reservoirs after the rainfall season.”

To acquire reliable information about prevailing flooding status, the department said it has put in place flood monitoring and forecasting systems that provides real-time data on rainfall, river and dam levels.

“These data are analysed continuously to enable the department to determine the appropriate releases from each dam”.

Since rainfall and floods are a natural phenomenon and therefore control of the events may be limited, the department advises against putting essential services and human settlements within parts of the floodplains where there is likelihood of frequent flooding that is within a 1 in 100-year flood line.

Source: South African Government News Agency