Water and Sanitation on slight improvement in South Africa’s dam levels

Pounding rains improve South Africa’s dams slightly

Persistent rains in parts of South Africa have begun improving the country’s dam levels, which rose by one percent week-on-week, according to figures in the latest weekly report by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). The report reflects an average national level at 60,2%, a slight improvement from last week’s 59,2%.

Despite the improvement, however, the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, has renewed her appeal to all South Africans to continue saving water as the country is not out of the woods yet, and some provinces are still trapped in the grip of severe droughts that have left communities with not a drop of water to drink.

Eastern Cape and parts of Northern Cape are among the worst provinces that are reeling from the effects of extremely dry conditions. Minister Sisulu recently announced a R300 million government funding to mitigate the effects of the drought in Northern Cape. In addition, the Provincial Government has declared a provincial disaster.

However, recently, provinces such as Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal have received consistent rainfalls that have slightly improved their water situation. As a result, Gauteng dam levels have increased to a whopping 101,2%, followed by Northern Cape and Mpumalanga at 77,5%and 73,3% respectively. Hydrologically, Gauteng and Northern Cape have fewer and smaller dams that fill up quickly by the slightest rains.

Free State which received hammering rains recently, has had its dam levels increasing from 65,6% to 67,7% this week. The province boasts some of the biggest dams in the country, including Gariep and Vanderkloof dams.

Limpopo has improved its water situation with dam levels rising from just below 50% two months ago, to 58,5% this week. According to the report, three of the province’s dams, Magoebaskloof, Flag Boshielo and Tonteldoos, are bursting at the seams following relentless rains last week. However, the situation remains dire in Mopani District where the Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba dams remain stagnant at 4,6% and 2,5% respectively.

The torrential rains also made a huge difference in Mpumalanga where the dam levels have risen by 11% from 60,2% to 71,3% this week. Nooitgedacht Dam in Nkomati rose to 100,7% while Vygeboom shot up by 12% to 102%. Inyaka Dam in Bushbuckridge and Westoe in Usutu region recorded 46,5% and 42,7% respectively. As a result of consistent rains, the province has 1 809,2 cubic metres of water in storage.

KwaZulu-Natal is also experiencing a steady rise in its dam levels. The province’s dam rose from 53,4% last week to 54,3% this week. Towns along the coastal belt of the Dolphin Coast, North and South Coast have benefitted immensely from last week’s rainfall. The Driel Barrage and Hluhluwe Dam in the North Coast recorded 100,3% and 101,4% respectively.

The good rains have also increased dam levels in North West from 56,3% to 61% this week. As a result, four dams, Swartruggens, Middelkraal, Bospoort and Klipvoor are full to capacity. However, the Klein Marico Dam recorded the lowest level at 7,1%. This is because of the poor rainfall that occurred in the region between Zeerust and Groot Marico.

With Western Cape having entered its dry hydrological season, dams have dropped to 60,5% in the province . Having recovered from a worst drought in 100 years, the province has stored 996 cubic metres in its reservoirs for use during the dry season. The storage figure indicates a three percent improvement compared to the corresponding period last year.

Source: Government of South Africa