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article imageWorst drought in over 100 years hits Western Cape in South Africa

By Karen Graham     May 22, 2017 in Environment
Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille has declared the Western Cape province a disaster area on Monday due to the relentless drought. Zille asked residents to manage their water supplies more efficiently as the South African region tries to cope with the drought.
According to Zille's spokesperson, Michael Mpofu, The disaster declaration is in response to what the premier is calling the "worst drought since 1904." Mpofu went on to say the declaration will remain in effect for three months and can be extended if necessary.
"The disaster declaration will accelerate the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre's Project 'Avoiding Day Zero', the province's strategy to ensure that taps do not run dry," Premier Zille said in a statement, adding that the declaration is no cause for panic.
Mpofu‚ said project “Avoiding Day Zero” was going to focus on demand management‚ winter water conservation and groundwater management, adding, “Funding will be re-prioritised provincially and‚ should further assistance be needed‚ the province will approach National Treasury and the National Department of Water and Sanitation."
South Africa has remained in the grip of a devastating drought that scientists say is not expected to end anytime soon, especially with the El Nino weather pattern that faded in May 2016 expected to return in September this year.
Last week, delegates from various scientific institutions met in Cape Town to discuss the rainfall patterns. The Meeting included delegates from the Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science, the South African Weather Service and the University of Cape Town.
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Not only was it revealed that rainfall amounts for February to April this year were less than the rainfall amounts for the same period last year, but the experts warned that the rainfall deficit was so severe now that any rain the area receives will be immediately sucked up by the dehydrated soil.
CSIR's Doctor Neville Sweijd said the research community was working hard to improve weather forecasting, adding, “Even if we get average rainfall in July, the total season might be below.”
Bore holes being drilled to get enough water in critical areas
The Western Cape's port city of Cape Town does not have enough water tankers to supply residents. Residents have been asked to restrict water use to 100 liters (106 quarts) a person per day in order to conserve water.
Additionally, boreholes will be drilled at hospitals and schools in high-risk areas. There are also plans to drill into the Table Mountain aquifer, according to Reuters.
More about severe drought, South Africa, Western cape, longrange forecasts, Climate change
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