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Flooding Fish River increase disaster potential in Mariental

Flooding Fish River increase disaster potential in Mariental

Niël Terblanché


RESIDENTS of Mariental are keeping a nervous eye on the water level on the part of the Fish River that flows past the town as the danger of yet another flood has become a stark reality.


Several home and business owners have started to move valuable items from their premises as water from the river started to push towards the town boundary.


Heavy rains in the catchment areas of two rivers that feed into the Fish River below the wall of the Hardap Dam late on Thursday afternoon have caused the water level to increase significantly.


The situation is exacerbated by the constant flow from the Hardap Dam where the flood gates have been open to release excess water from the dam for the past three days.



The latest measurements taken by NamWater at around 18:00 this afternoon indicated that the water level in the dam has increased to 73% from 68% in less than 12 hours.


The inflow was measured at 1 175 cubic metres per second and at the gates authorities were releasing 500 cubic metres of water per second from the dam.


Although the dam can accommodate much more water, the ground in the catchment areas of the rivers that feed into the dam has been saturated with good rains over the past two weeks. It is a well-known fact that continuous rain in the catchment areas at this stage can fill the Hardap Dam to its full capacity in a matter of a few hours.


The floodgates at the Hardap Dam have been open since Wednesday and although the release of water is carefully controlled the capacity of the river below the wall to evacuate enough water has been negatively influenced by the additional rain and flooding of the rivers below Hardap late this afternoon.


Residents of Mariental are apprehensive because a very similar scenario played out in 2006 when the Fish River broke its banks with disastrous consequences.


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