SOUTH AFRICA

 
Published: Monday 15 February 1999

Rising water levels in dams in the northern parts of South Africa have sparked fears of floods after heavy rainfall in the area. With the weather bureau forecasting further rains during the rest of the present season, precautions are being taken to avoid calamities. Already, some sluice gates at the Vaal and Bloemhof dams, which are both 97 per cent full, have been opened. Vaal River area manager Marinus de Wilde said three sluice gates were opened at the Vaal dam for fear of flooding. According to Estelle van Niekerk, assistant director of hydrology at South Africa's department of water affairs, a majority of the dams in the country are more than 80 per cent full. However, Van Niekerk said the only exceptions are the dams in the Eastern and Northern Cape that are running below capacity. These levels are similar to those experienced at this time in 1997. Van Niekerk said there were only two dams causing concern because of their near zero levels: the Kalkfontein Dam in Free State and the Smartt Syndicate Dam in the Northern Cape.

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