Water data for 2022-3 summer season

Figures show the outflows from the reserve after a summer with somewhat lower rains.

The Kliprivier exiting the reserve on its northern boundary, thereafter it joins the Steelpoort River and eventually the Olifants  (Photograph: James van den Heever) 

Thanks to Hannes Marais and Jannie Coetzee, we have the next lot of water data from Verloren Valei. As the data accumulates, it will become more and more valuable for assessing the reserve’s contribution to the country. Since 2021, they have concentrated on collecting two readings annually, one at the end of the dry season (typically September/ October) and one at the end of the wet season (February/ March).

Between July 2022 and March 2023,  the reserve experienced lower than usual rain – 586mm at the office, 669mm at the Witpad gauge and 958 at Witrand, close to the western boundary. The annual mean is 1078mm.

Despite the lower rainfall, the stream flow as measured in March 23 was 476 litres per second, or 41 megalitres per 24-hour period. As the table shows, the results over the years vary wildly.

Wet seasonFlow per 24 hours
January 1996149.5 megalitres
March 2021600 megalitres
February 202229 megalitres
March 202341 megalitres
Wet season flows

Jannie Coetzee makes the point that wet season readings tend to fluctuate wildly because they are directly correlated to how much rain fell just prior to the reading as this is only source of Verloren Valei’s water. Thus if a reading is preceded by heavy rain, it will be abnormally high, and the opposite if no rain happened to fall in the preceding few days.

For example, a reading taken soon after our former manager took this picture of the Lunsklip in flood (summer of 2020-21) would show an abnormally high flow rate!

The Lunsklip in flood (Photograph: Shirley Sibiya)

Logically, Jannie argues, the really important measurement is the stream flow at the end of the dry season, because that indicates just how much water the wetlands can store during the wet months. The data from the last four dry seasons shows a fairly constant outflow of approximately 13 megalitres per 24 hours

Dry seasonFlow per 24 hours
October 199514.2 megalitres
July 199813 megalitres
September 202112.8 megalitres
October 20227 megalitres
Dry season flows

However, cause for concern is Jannie’s observation that the rainfall seems to be on a downward trend at present.

More data will help to clarify the picture and identify trends.

Follow the link to access previous articles on water monitoring at Verloren Valei.

Formal write-up on the data sets as at June 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *