La Niña, “the girl”, is a weather pattern that occurs every few years in the equatorial belt region in the Pacific Ocean and is linked to wetter than usual summers in southern Africa while causing droughts in other parts of the world.
While the rains will ease any fears of drought, there are concerns more floods are expected along the Vaal and Orange rivers when the water department is compelled to open the sluice gates of dams already at maximum capacity.
Parys-based adventure tour operator Graeme Addison said he feared a repeat of 2011 when the department waited too long before opening all the sluice gates at the Vaal Dam.
“It reached 120% before they let it all go and we had a flood,” he told TimesLIVE.
“The cost to downstream residents and businesses was incalculable. Weeks of evacuation, loss of pumps and facilities, some drownings.”
Addison urged water department minister to "take direct charge".
The flow of the Orange River is already sharply higher, Upington-based adventure and whitewater tour operator Craig Eksteen told TimesLIVE.
“We are told flow will be at 3,000 cubic metres per second by January,” he said, adding that the official numbers did not take into account flow from usually dry riverbeds that had flooded in recent storms.
“If the water department had been letting out 500 or 600 cubic metres a day, we wouldn’t be in this position,” he said.