Worst Drought in 100 Years – Southern Cape

By Craig McKune

It may be another cold, wet, windy and snowy week throughout the province, but southern Cape farmers say they are battling the worst drought to hit the region in over 100 years.George drought

The SA Weather Service has warned of gale-force winds along the southern Cape coast today, along with swells of over five metres all along the Western Cape coastline.

Weather forecaster Niek Koegelenberg said the Cape would be hit by a series of cold fronts until Thursday.

But for farmers and residents along the Garden Route, the showers would not be enough to ease their plight.

In a recent meeting between disaster managers, affected municipalities and agriculture officials, it was decided not to declare the southern Cape a disaster area, said Western Cape agriculture spokesman Wouter Kriel. Eden district disaster manager Gerhard Otto, however, called it the region’s worst drought in over 100 years. The George dam was only 30 percent full and dropping by one percent every week. At this rate, George would run out of water by mid-January he said.

He said Knysna, Sedgefield, George and Mossel Bay municipalities were worst affected, but that the municipalities had contingency plans in place, including punitive tariffs in George for high-end users.

Peter Greeff, a lecturer at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus in George, said some farmers were unable to use their irrigation systems at all.

Lancewood dairy farmer Jack Rubin said dairy farmers were forced to buy in feed, at a tremendous outlay to farmers.

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