Darlington Dam

A few months ago we spent a weekend on a friend’s farm near Darlington Dam and he took us for a quick drive to see what the dam looked like. Unfortunately we didn’t get to go to the dam wall itself, so my picture is of the runoff below the wall.

Darlington Dam, also referred to as Lake Mentz is located off the main road between Kirkwood and Jansenville and was completed in 1922. The primary reason for the dam being built was to provide an adequate supply of water to especially citrus farmers further down in the Sundays River Valley with irrigation water for their trees.

The story of the land on which the dam is located goes back to 1905 when P.W.F. Weyers settled on Darlington in the fertile Sundays River Valley and planted fruit orchards and vineyards. Later a hotel, post office, shop, smithy, house and several outbuildings were established on the farm, but these all disappeared under waters of Lake Mentz when it was established in 1922.

The original dam was designed to store 142 million m3, but the high sediment yield of the Sundays River meant that sediment delivery into the reservoir basin quickly reduced its capacity. The dam wall was raised by 1.5 m in 1935 and again by 5.8 m in 1951. By 1979 the reservoir had lost a total of 41.47% of its design capacity.

The serious drought of 1966 and 1967 emphasized the necessity to commence work on the Skoenmakers Canal to link the Great Fish River to Darlington Dam in view of an expected increase in irrigation below Darlington Dam and the demand for water in the Port Elizabeth metropolitan area.

In the 1990s the ‘lake’ was renamed the Darlington Dam and today it has been incorporated into the Addo Elephant National Park.

How about visiting the Kouga Dam?

When was the last time you’ve been in the Gamtoos Valley?  Perhaps I should ask, have you ever been for a drive up to the Kouga Dam?  If the answer to both of these questions are “never” or “not recently” then there is no time like the present.  After all the rain we have had recently the Kouga Dam is currently overflowing and well worth a visit. 
The Kouga Dam is located about 21 kilometers west of Patensie and was opened in 1969.  It supplies water to both Port Elizabeth and the farming area within the Gamtoos Valley and has a dam wall of 94,5 meters high and 202 meters long.   Just thought you’ll want to know.

Gamtoos Series 2 – water canals

This is post #2 in the Gamtoos series featuring the Gamtoos River Valley west of Port Elizabeth.  The valley is referred to as the food basket of the Eastern Cape due to the amount of fruit and vegetables being grown here.  These farms all get their water from the Kouga Dam.  Water is taken from the Kouga Dam to the Loerie Dam (on its way to consumers in Port Elizabeth) via a main canal while irrigation water for the farms in the valley is distributed by means of a series of canals and pipelines.  7400 ha of scheduled ground are irrigated with every irrigator being supplied with at least one draw-off with a self registering meter.  These are then operated by the farmers themselves according to their needs and with a maximum limit of 8000 m3 per ha per year being allowed.

Gamtoos Series 1 – Kouga Dam

I’m going through a very busy period at work having just come back from World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town and off to Durban for Indaba in a couple of days.  Because of it I’m running low on photos and rather than skipping days I decided to keep the daily photo concept going and recycle some pictures from The Firefly Photo Files over to PE Daily Photo.  So lets go on a little PE Daily Photo holiday and discover the nearby Gamtoos River Valley, an area ideal for a weekend Sho’t Left out of the city.  The “holiday” will be made up of a series of seven posts showing off some of the sights and attractions in the valley.

The Kouga Dam is one of the most important features in the Gamtoos Valley.  It not just supplies water to irrigate the farms in the valley, it’s also one of Port Elizabeth’s main water supply dams.  The dam is a double curve arch dam with an 82 m high wall and storage capacity of 128,7 million m3.  The catchment area is inside the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area from where the Kouga River carries the water into the 34 km long dam basin.  Other than for water supply the dam was also built as a flood control mechanism to lessen the impact of a flood on the lower Gamtoos River.  Visitors can get right up to the point where I took the photo from for a view of the dam.

Discovering PE’s oldest dam – Frames Dam

Its always nice to discover something or somewhere new.  In this case it was something old.  A quick geocache outing during lunch time took me into the Shark River Valley in Humewood and to the old Frames Reservoir.  In the mid 1800’s the fledgling town of Port Elizabeth was having water problems.  As a stop-gap measure, a Mr Pinchin and Mr Clement Wall Frames, nephew of William Brooksby Frames, negotiated with the Town Council to supply water to the lower parts of the town from the Shark’s River.  At that time water from the Shark’s River was used for a wool washery established by Frames on the south bank. Capital of £10 000 was raised in subscribed shares of £100 each. This scheme was known as the Shark’s River Water Supply Company. In 1863 a masonry wall was constructed across the Shark’s River. This storage reservoir, with a capacity of over half a million gallons, was officially opened in 1864 and named “Frames Dam”, after Clement Frames, who initiated and built the dam and laid a pipeline to town. The opening ceremony was preceded by a morning hunt and a champagne breakfast.  The dam itself was located approximately 1 1/2 miles south of the town in the Shark’s River Valley on the farm Gomery, now Humewood.  Water from the storage dam was conveyed to the town by a pipeline laid between the beach and Main Street, and extended as far as the prison in North End. The pipes used were imported from England and taps were fitted at regular intervals for the convenience of residents.  Unfortunately for Frames, due to pressure problems the higher lying areas lost out.  He later went bankrupt as a result of the scheme and the municipality took it over.

The lake on Lakeside Road

After all the rain we had in Port Elizabeth the lake on Lakeside Road flooded its banks and closed the road for quite some time.  I took a drive past there the other day to see how high it still was but it seems to have dropped back to its normal level.  The lake is the biggest natural fresh water lake in Port Elizabeth.  Just one problem.  I can’t really find what the lake’s proper name is other than the area being called Lake Farm. Anybody knows? 

Sand River Dam

Port Elizabeth’s earliest water supply came from the Shark River at Happy Valley and the Donkin Stream next to the Donkin Reserve.  As the city started to grow in its early days of development the demand for water far exceeded this meager supply.  After a competition held by the Port Elizabeth city council in 1862 to find proposals to supply the city with water, a weir and small dam was built in the Van Stadens River.  This was later followed by the Bulk River (1903) and the Sand River (1907) dams in the Elands River Valley, both which can be seen driving along the Elands River Road.  Of cause these dams have since been replaced as the main supply dams by the Kouga, Churchill and Mpofu dams.  Both the Sand River and Bulk River are tributaries of the Elands River which in turn at its concourse with the Kwazunga River forms the Swartkops River.  I know all of the is a mouth full but it’s info I never knew until I started researching the Sand River Dam which can be seen overflowing in the picture.