Ricochet News

Latest on dam levels across South Africa - residents urged to save water

Feb 20, 2020
Latest on dam levels across South Africa - residents urged to save water

East London - Recent consistent rainfalls in large parts of the country have increased the average dam levels by almost two percent in the past week. However, Gauteng, which recorded the highest levels recently, has seen its levels drop from 103% to 98,9%.

According to the latest report dam levels report of the Department of Water and Sanitation, South Africa’s dam levels soared from 62,4% last week to 64%.

"There is an average 20 486,3 cubic metres of water that is stored in reservoirs, as indicated by the report," said Sputnik Ratau, Spokesperson for the Department of Water and Sanitation.

"Limpopo’s dam levels continue to rise, and did so moving from 62,3% a week ago to 69% this week. Mpumalanga is at a hefty at 75,2%, slightly up from 74,4% a week ago."

He added that the Northern Cape remains stable at 80,8% compared to 80,9% previously, while North West has dropped from 67,3% to 66,8%.

"Eastern Cape, whose large parts are drought-stricken, has made slight but welcome strides with its average dam levels rising from 50,7% last week to 51,4, thanks to consistent downpours that have fallen in major parts of the province," Ratau said.

"However, the Minister Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has cautioned against complacency as the province’s dam levels belie the real water situation on the ground.

"She asked water users to continue saving water and brace themselves for a dry winter. The Nqweba Dam on the Sundays River feeding Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is virtually running dry at 5,3%, while Lake Arthur Dam, which receives water from Tarka River recorded a dismal 1,8% level and Kommando Drift on the same river is at a mere 11,7%."

He further said that at a provincial average of 49%, a slight drop from the 50,0% of last week, the Western Cape is nearing the end of its dry summer hydrological season and will soon enter its wet season in May.

"The province is preparing for a bumper rainy winter season that is expected to increase the current levels. Last year the province made a miraculous recovery from the worst drought in a century to reaching 80% dam levels by October last year," Ratau described.

"KwaZulu-Natal has surpassed last year’s record of dam levels by three percent, having risen from 57,6% to 60,3%. The reservoirs contain 2 882,9 cubic metres in volume of water.

"However, the coastal towns – from the Dolphin Coast to the South Coast - are the largest beneficiaries of the regular rainfalls that have boosted the cane fields along the coastal belt."

Meanwhile, the Free State, home to some of the biggest dams in the country, recorded 71,1% level, fractionally above the same figure in the corresponding period last year.

"Sterkfontein Dam which is part of the Integrated Vaal River System, is stable at 92,5%, while Vanderkloof is at the level of 60,7% as compared to 60,4% last week. Fika-Patso Dam near QwaQwa remains almost empty at 10,4%, though stable week on week."

The iconic Vaal Dam, bordering both the Free State and Gauteng Provinces, is just a tad up at 57,4% as against the 56,9% it was at last week. The Vaal Dam is still much lower than at the same time in 2019 when it was at 71,7%.

Ratau said that the North West took a slight knock when its dams dropped from 67,3% to 66,8% in past week.

"However, comparatively speaking, the province’s dam have improved greatly in the past four months rising from 43,7% in November last year to the current figure. The figures as being seen from the DWS report do reflect the real impact of the late rains this summer, married to the very high temperatures that resulted in high evaporation rates," he noted.

"All these indicate the unavoidable impacts of climate change and the continued need to safeguard the country’s scarce water resources.

"The protection of the country’s water ecosystem, water infrastructure and the conservative use of water can together assure South Africans of security of water supply whilst the DWS continues to deliver on its mandate in support of the National Development Plan, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6.

"This as all South Africans respond to the call to action as embodied in the National Water and Sanitation Master Plan."

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