An unprecedented drought in and around Cape Town, South Africa, has prompted a temporary ban on all recreational boating at one of the area's main dams, with other inland locations likely to follow suit.
The depth of the Brandvlei dam about 100km north of the city has dropped to below 2m due to three years of significantly lower rainfall in the Western Cape province – a drop possibly linked to climate change. The dam is home to the Worcester Yacht Club (WYC), which this week put a stop to “any water activities which include motorboat activity, sailing, kitesurfing, kayaking and swimming.”
“The committee was advised to close the dam due to the very low levels of water and to ensure the safety of water users,” the WYC said in a public statement. “The feedback from DWAF (the Department of Water Affairs) is also that our neighbouring dams have or are also in the process of closing access for water activities.
“WYC conducted a depth measurement of the dam and found the water depth to be 1.7m along the sides where the flags have been positioned and 1.9m in the middle of the dam,” the statement said. “The drop in water level is a concern, as the majority of the bottom of the dam consists of uneven rock embankments.
“During this time the slipways will be closed and we will clearly indicate that no one may use the water at the WYC entrance points with no response available. Additionally, there is mud around the dam which may extend to a depth of half a meter and may be dangerous to members and animals getting stuck,” WYC said.
Cape Town residents have been warned to prepare for 'Day Zero' when the city will be forced to cut supply to most city households. However, recent restrictions for both domestic use and agriculture have postponed Day Zero to 2019.
Restrictions have impacted on both boatbuilders and marinas. Earlier this year, Cape Town's Royal Cape Yacht Club confirmed they are advising all visiting yachts to fill up with water further along the coast where stringent water restrictions do not apply.
The Club has also implemented several water-saving measures such as rainwater harvesting, water-efficient shower heads and a saltwater washer to clean boats.