THE danger of Mariental being inundated with floodwater from the Hardap Dam has decreased significantly after the inflow of water into the dam decreased overnight.
Officials from NamWater have been monitoring the water level in the dam diligently and by this morning decided to reduce the outflow from the dam.
While the dam was still receiving inflow the situation was balancing on a knife’s edge. If officials released too much water through the floodgates, Mariental would have been inundated and many residents would have been displaced.
At the same time, the large volume of water that was released from the dam since Tuesday has flooded some of the crop-producing fields of farmers on the agricultural scheme below the dam.
When officials decided to reduce the release of water they had to it gradually as well to reduce damage to crop fields further down the river.
If the level in the Fish River dropped too quickly as a result of the floodgates being closed abruptly most of the flooded fields would have been damaged and eroded by the floodwater flowing back down to the river.
Early on Saturday morning, the level in the Hardap Dam was standing at 82% and water was released at a rate of 730 cubic metres per second.
By 08:00 the level in dam dropped to just above 80% and the officials started to close the floodgates gradually and the release rate was dropped to 630 cubic metres per second and then down to 500 cubic metres per second as the level in the dam started dropping back down to 70% which is the safety margin determined to prevent Mariental from being flooded.
Residents of Mariental can start to relax their vigilance because no significant rainfall in the catchment areas of the rivers that feed into the Hardap Dam occurred overnight and the inflow will decrease gradually while officials monitor the water level in the dam carefully.
However, weather prophets have predicted that the good rains will return next week which means that the entire process might have to be repeated.