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Wednesday, 02 November 2016 05:47

South African dams could take up to five years to recover from drought

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South Africa's dams could take up to five years to recover even if the country experiences normal rainfall following a severe drought, authorities said on Tuesday, increasing the prospects of water rationing.

Southern Africa has been affected by a severe drought that has prompted water restrictions by various municipalities, which have warned that water could be rationed if consumers do not heed calls to cut consumption.

"We predict that it will take anything from two to three years and even up to five years to recover from the drought we have just come through," said the department of Water and Sanitations deputy director general Trevor Blazer.

Blazer said only about 8 percent of rainfall water is captured in dams, with most of it being lost to evaporation, transpiration and replenishing ground water.

The South African Weather Services said at the same briefing that the country was more likely to have a wetter early summer season, from November to January, with lower temperatures than previously expected.

"Observations suggest a likelihood of a weak La Nina which is expected to start decaying before it gains any form of momentum," said meteorologist Lucky Ntsangwane.

But there is still uncertainty over whether the summer rainfall will be enough to offset the effects of the drought. The weather service has said that there is a likelihood of a weak La Nina weather system, which is usually associated with higher rainfall and lower temperatures.

The severe drought ravaged southern Africa and led to the loss of livestock and staple maize crop, was driven by an El Nino weather system that set in last year.

It brought scorching temperatures with 2015 being the driest year in South Africa since records began in 1904, impacting farmers and pushing up food prices.

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