THE water level in the Hardap Dam has increased drastically from 73% to almost 88% overnight and is set to increase even further if the current inflow continues.
At the same time authorities monitoring the water level in the dam has increased the rate at which they release water through the floodgates to 630 cubic metres per second which means that more water is flowing down the Fish River and increasing the danger of Mariental being inundated with water with the passing of every hour. By 12:00 the release rate was increased to more than 700 cubic metres per second and NamWater planned to increase the flow rate to 1 000 cubic metres per second.
Residents of the southern town are on high alert and to evacuate if the part of the Fish River that runs past their homes breaks its banks even further. By Thursday evening many residents have already moved their belongings to higher ground to prevent damage if the flood they fear does actually occur.
The rate of inflow at the Hardap Dam this morning stood at 1 147 cubic metres per second which means that by 20:00 tonight the dam could reach a level of 95%.
The chairman of the Hardap Farmers’ Union, Dawie de Klerk, said that if the volume of water increase beyond 100%, NamWater will have no choice but to open the gates beyond 1 000 cubic metres per second, which would definitely cause another flood disaster in Mariental.
At this stage, no water has entered the streets of the town yet but if the rate of release at the dam is increased further the situation might change drastically in a short period of time.
Since the floodgates at the dam were opened on Tuesday this week 21 million cubic metres of water have already been released from behind the wall. In context, that means that about 71% of the dam’s holding capacity has already flowed down the Fish River and past Mariental.
The Neckertal Dam currently stands at 60.5% although water released from the Hardap Dam has not reached it yet. The water has to travel a distance of about 250 kilometres and the first water from Hardap might start to flow in over the weekend.
The water released from Hardap along with more rain in the catchment area of Neckertal could fill Namibia’s biggest dam quite significantly. As it stands currently the Neckertal Dam has just under double the volume of water that could be accommodated by the Hardap Dam.
NamWater officials at the Naute Dam closer to Keetmanshoop, have reopened the floodgates this morning after the volume of water in the dam increased to 106.1%. Unlike last week where more than 2 000 cubic metres of water were released to protect the integrity of the dam wall, the current rate of outflow is 300 cubic metres per second.