Namibia Water Corporation (NamWater) has announced that it will cease to supply water to irrigation schemes around the Hardap dam, effective 1st February 2020.
This due to the fact that the dam – which is located about 30 kilometres north of Mariental – is currently without sufficient water to meet all its water supply demands, as a result of the poor water inflow that was experienced during the current rainy season.
With this decision, about 1 000 households that benefit either directly or indirectly from the Hardap Irrigation Scheme will be negatively affected.
NamWater senior manager for corporate communications, Johannes Shigwedha, made this announcement today (Tuesday). The move according to Shigwedha was anticipated last year. He revealed that investigations which were carried out by NamWater last year indicated that without a significant water inflow, into the Hardap dam, irrigation water supply cannot be sustained and that the supply of water for domestic and livestock use will also be negatively impacted.
The corporation then implemented a water demand management plan as a water saving mechanism. The latter was, however, ineffective and failed to yield the desired outcome in terms of water levels in the dam.
“We then reviewed a number of scenarios attached to the management of the dam. The recommended scenario called for a 40% water saving plan on irrigation use only. The scenario further suggested that should irrigation water be stopped at the end of January 2020, then water supply to domestic and livestock use will be sustainable until the end of April 2021, which suffices two rain season’s sustainable supply,” Shigwedha maintained.
This set-up, according to Shigwedha, changed drastically with the continuous poor inflow of water into Hardap Dam. The State water utility later established that even with the discontinuation of irrigation water by the 31 January 2020, adequate domestic water supply will no longer be possible for two rain seasons, as the date has moved up to end of February 2021 – which is the middle of the next rain season.
“It was thus recommended that irrigation water be discontinued as soon as possible, (and) not later than 01 February 2020. NamWater will monitor the situation for domestic and livestock supply and reassesses the situation for irrigation once the dam receives inflow,” Shigwedha said.
He further revealed that, while the water utility hopes for rain to come it will, in the meantime, avail a pump station to increase potable water supply to Mariental town.
“This is required due to the expected increase on the demand of potable water,” Shigwedha concluded.
With current development, irrigation farmers in the area will be dealt a bad hand. Dawie de Klerk, the Chairperson of the Hardap Farmers Association was quoted by a local daily newspaper about two weeks ago quashing as ‘rumours,’ the claims that NamWater might arrive at this decisions.
“There are a lot of rumours and opinions around the dam but the actually fact is that the cut-off point of the raw water delivery to the Hardap Scheme is at 4.5 percent of the capacity. If the dam reaches 4.5 percent capacity, we will still have potable water until March 2021, in case there is no inflow. The reports that the dam’s sluices or water delivery sluices will be closed are not true,” De Klerk reportedly said.
De Klerk, reportedly, told the New Era newspaper that the farmers in the area have committed themselves to stop production on 40 percent of their irrigated land, to rescue the situation until end of January when the rainy season starts. The rainy season usually starts end of January until April.