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Scientists predict drier WC region

Experts warn the soil moisture deficit is now so severe now that rain water will immediately be sucked up by dehydrated soil.

FILE: The water level of the Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town dropped to around 30 percent in March 2016. It is the largest of five major dams supplying drinking water to the city. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Long term climate forecasts for the Western Cape indicate the region will become drier.

Delegates from various scientific institutions have gathered in Cape Town today to discuss the province's rainfall patterns.

Scientists have revealed rainfall in the province from February to April was less than the same period last year.

The Alliance for Collaboration on Climate and Earth Systems Science, the South African Weather Service and University of Cape Town have all participated in the discussion on Western Cape Weather patterns.

Experts warn the soil moisture deficit is now so severe now that rain water will immediately be sucked up by dehydrated soil.

The CSIR's Doctor Neville Sweijd says the research community is trying to improve the accuracy of weather forecasts in the region.

“Even if we get average rainfall in July, the total season might be below. Even if we get above average rainfall in July, the total rainfall for the season maybe lower.”

At the same time, with average dam levels at 21.2%, the City of Cape Town has issued a critical water warning to all consumers.

Water is only to be used for drinking, washing and cooking.

Tomorrow the city's mayoral committee is expected to recommend to council, that it implement Level Four water restrictions.

In its latest assessment of the dam levels, consumption continues to exceed the target by more than 100 million litres.

The city now plans to tighten its restrictions which would mean a ban on using municipal water for all outisde and non-essential proposes.

Mayoral committee member for utilities, Xanthea Limberg says water usage remains catastrophically high.

“This is not a request, we have seen huge saving efforts but the hot autumn is exacerbating the situation, and we must all do more.”

Limberg says the only immediate intervention is to cut water usage by reducing shower time, and the flushing of toilets.

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