Kaleb Nghishidivali

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform (MAWLR) is alerting the public, most especially those in the Lower Orange River, and Eastern Zambezi Floodplains, that there is a possibility of high river flows and flooding which might cause prolonged inundation in the coming days.

MAWLR learned that there is high rainfall development in the main headwaters of the Vaal-Orange system in South Africa. As a result, major overflows and releases had to be made from Bloemhof, Gariep and Vanderkloof major dams over the past weekend.

The high flows moved down the Lower Orange River and at Blouputs, the water level started rising rapidly since the afternoon of the Friday, 17 February 2023 from 0.52m to 3.33 m on 20th February 2023.

The ministry indicated that the major upstream dams remained above 100%. Therefore, it is expected that the flows in the Lower Orange River will remain high in the coming weeks with more water on its way, as a result of further overflows and releases from the upstream dams.

According to MAWLR Executive Director Ms. Ndiyakupi Nghituwamata the Vaal Dam has reported opened about 12 gates, that is expected to release 2979.17 m3/s water outflows.

Therefore, the ministry is advising the Communities, Water Users, Irrigation areas (Noordoewer, and settlement in Aussenker), Mines, road users, the lowest part of the Orange River Oranjemund area to be on high alert for possible high river flows and flooding.

“The Zambezi River level maintains its steady rise at Katima Mulilo. The first flood wave reached the Zambezi River at Katima Mulilo early last week. The river starts overflowing its banks when it reaches the 4-meter mark at Katima Mulilo. The hydrological station recorded 5.29 m the morning of 20th February 2023. Early higher flood alert and readiness is advised for the eastern Zambezi floodplains as river levels are expected to rise due to good rainfall development in the upstream part of the Zambezi catchment,” said Nghituwamata

The ministry further indicated that the water levels in the channels of the eastern and central zones of the Cuvelai ephemeral river system are levelling off, however, the levels remain high for this time of the year. The observed high levels may exceed the 2011 flood, being the highest recorded flood in recent memory in the Cuvelai Etosha Basin if more rains persist in the Cuvelai catchment.

Photo: Maps or the Orange River with some of the hydrological control stations.

February 22, 2023

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