08.12.2016

Windhoek’s dams are almost empty


A pleasure for the eye: the Von Bach Dam in a better rainy season. (Source: Wikipedia)

Namibia’s cities and towns are supplied with water from dams, boreholes and rivers. 

In total the country’s dams contain about 705,855 million cubic metres of water. In addition to the sewage treatment plant, Windhoek’s water supply includes a large number of boreholes, which tap into groundwater reserves, as well as three dams. Under normal circumstances most of the drinking water is extracted from the three dams, which have a total capacity of 155,548 million cubic metres of water. Following the two year drought, the three dams currently only contain 8,992 million cubic metres of water that cannot be used as the remainder of the water cannot be pumped out.

NamWater has already installed a raft in the Swakoppforte Dam, with a pump on the water surface, to enable them to pump the last remaining water. They are planning to install the same system in the Von Bach Dam and instillation is due to be finished by mid-December. Additionally, water from boreholes at Kombat and Grootfontein in the north, is sent across kilometres via canals and pipelines into the Von Bach Dam.

Between Grootfontein and Okakarara there is 131.2 kilometres of canal and 65.3 kilometres of pipeline, which leads fresh water from the boreholes to the south. From Okakarara the valuable water flows another 45.1 kilometres in the channel and 21.7 kilometres in pipelines to the Omatako Dam.

Windhoek needs 23.6 million cubic metres per year.

For months, Windhoekers have not managed to save the required amount of water given by NamWater and the city administration. In 2015, consumption was to go down with 15%, later 20% and since the beginning of this year 30% or 35%, ultimately 40%. On 23 August 2016, NamWater stopped pumping water from the 43,499 million cubic metre Omatako Dam into the Von Bach Dam (483,560 million cubic metre) after it was empty. However, water from the Omatako Dam is transferred through a pipeline and pumping station, into the Von Bach Dam near Okahandja.

They are also no longer pumping water from the Swakoppforte Dam, located 50km west of Okahandja, into the Von Bach Dam, since the remaining water reserves are only used for the Karibib and Navachab mine. The Friedenau Dam west of Windhoek can no longer be used due to pollution. The town of Gobabis in the east of the country is supplied with water from the Otjivero Dam, as well as the Tilda and Daan Viljoen Dams. In recent weeks, water has been pumped from the Otjivero Main Dam near Omitara into the Tilda Viljoen Dam near Gobabis via a pipeline. 

NamWater has also announced that the various dams in Namibia were filled with 23.6 percent of their total capacity, on Monday 5 December 2016. This is a total of 165,254 million cubic metres of water in seventeen different dams. At the same time last year, the level stood at 34.0 percent (237,435 m/m3). The total capacity of the Hardap Dam at Mariental is 294,593 million cubic metres. This means that the total available water reserves of all state dams would not even fill the Hardap dam near Mariental. On Monday of this week, in the largest dam of Namibia, the Hardap Dam, only 69,166 million cubic metres of the precious resource, this is used for agricultural purposes in Mariental. 

The current state of the individual dams and in brackets the levels in the previous year:

Swakoppforte Dam 6.2%(18.3%)
Von Bach Dam 10.4%(24.1%)
Omatako Dam  0.0%(0.0%)
CENTRAL REGION TOTAL  5.8%(15.0%)
Friedenau Dam  24.8%(35.6%)
Goreangab Dam 97.2%(95.3%)
WINDHOEK TOTAL 50.1%(56.5%)
CENTRAL REGION TOTAL 8.5%(17.6%)
Otjivero Main Dam 30.2%(48.7%)
Otjivero (other)  2.0%(7.0%)
Tilda Viljoen Dam  36.5%(62.5%)
Daan Viljoen Dam  32.9%(62.7%)
GOBABIS TOTAL  19.3%(33.0%)
Hardap Dam  23.5%(39.6%)
Naute Dam  71.9%(75.7%)
Oanob Dam  26.6%(39.5%)
Dreihuk Dam  0.0%(0.0%)
Bondels Dam  0.0%(0.0%)
SOUTH TOTAL  32.2%(45.1%)
Olushandja Dam  21.2%(19.6%)
Omdel Dam  0.0%(0.0%)
Omatjenne Dam  0.0%(0.0%)

Dirk Heinrich


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