More data on Verloren Valei’s value as a national water treasure

We are slowly building up a picture of the contribution to the country’s scarce (and vital) water resources made by the reserve.

By James van den Heever

The Lunsklip River in flood (January 2021)—a reminder of why the water figures are so high (Photograph: Shirley Sibiya)

Following on from a previous article detailing the results of water measurement in March 2021, Jannie Coetzee, Elizma Coetzee and Hannes Marais recently released results of their September measurement efforts, thus providing figures for the end of the winter dry season.

The results are very interesting. In March, the 12 streams that exit the reserve accounted for a total of 600.37 megalitres per 24-hour period. In September, at the end of the dry season, the figure was 12.8 megalitres per 24-hour period.

To put the figures into context using the few historical figures we have, the dry season outflow compares well with previous readings for October 1995 (14.15 megalitres) and July 1998 (12.21 megalitres). So the September 2021 figures are pretty consistent with the extant data—the figure that it out of kilter seems rather to be the March 2021 figure. It would seem that it represents an exceptional year in terms of rainfall when one compares it with the only other figure we have, which is January 1996, mid-wet season—a comparatively meagre 149.57 megalitres.

Of course, all these conclusions are speculative and will doubtless change as more data is collected.

Meanwhile, Jannie Coetzee has had his calculator out again. Based on fees charged by the Loskop Irrigation Board for irrigation water, the water flows from Verloren Valei could be valued at R5.3 million every 24 hours during the high flow as measured in March 2021, and R114 000 every 24 hours during the low-flow period of September 2021. Of course, the value of our pristine water cannot be easily reduced to rands and cents, but these figures do go some way towards to showing just how important our small reserve is in the bigger scheme of things.

Results from this ongoing project will be keenly awaited.

Consult the full table of results.

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