After watching the video clip of the Bergriver Dam’s water gates being opened and water released into the Bergriver in order to fill up the Misverstand Dam to alleviate the water shortage experienced in the West Coast area, it peaked my interest to find out where Paarl gets its water from.

What an interesting exercise, and this is what I found.  I hope my facts are correct!

Paarl gets its water from the Wemmershoek Dam, which is situated in the Franschhoek Mountains and gets its water from the Wemmershoek River.  The Wemmershoek dam is one of 6 dams that form part of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) which provides the greater Cape Town with W-ater.  They are the:

Theewaterskloof Dam;
Wemmershoek Dam;
Steenbras Dams (Upper and lower);
Voëlvlei Dam and the
Berg River Dam.

Western Cape WSS Study area

The Theewaterskloof Dam is the largest of the 6, and is connected to an extensive system of pipelines and tunnels that connects the broader WCWSS. Particularly impressive is the 30 km of tunnels that pass through the Franschhoek, Groot Drakenstein and Stellenbosch mountains.  The tunnels also connect to pipelines in the Franschhoek Valley linking it to the Wemmershoek and Berg River dams.

So why is Paarl supplying the West Coast (Saldanha Bay area) with water?

The video clip shows the release of water, in total 5 Billion liters, from the Berg River Dam into the Berg River, which over a few days, reaches the Misverstand Dam, which will provide the West Coast with water.  This is because their dam is 13% capacity, and DAY ZERO was imminent for the West Coast.  So we helping a neighbor in need…

After reading the articles of the release of the water, it seems we at the stage that we are stealing water!!… Law enforcement officers discovered that at various areas of the Berg River, man-made water diversion tactics to divert water to a specific area!!!

So what has Drakenstein Municipality have in place in case the Wemmershoek Dam, where we get our water, runs dry?  The Municipality has a treatment facility for water, and quite a substantial borehole programme, to assist if we run out of water.

In 2012, Paarl commissioned the award winning Meulwater Treatment Works situated on Paarl Mountain. This facility includes process units, laboratory facilities, chemical dosing and machine room, a raw water pipeline, a treated water pipeline, even the roof is covered with grass for environmentally friendly reasons.  The water that this facility treats is water from 2 dams situated on Paarl Mountain – the Bethel Dam and Nantes Dam.  So all water from these dams, flow to the Meulwater Treatment Works, get filtered, and therefore is safe for human consumption, and gets transported into the Municipalities water system pipelines.  From the research, it looks like this is quite an award winning facility and very few of them in SA.  See the pictures of the facility below.

Find out more about the facility here –

A R36 million borehole programme was implemented and the Municipality has drilled 27 municipal boreholes to date. If we run out of water, the Municpality will setup water distribution points throughout the area.

From what I have read, it looks like our Municipality has pulled out all the stops to make sure we have a constant water supply and beat the drought.

Well Done Drakenstein Municipality!!

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