Cape Town’s dam levels rising

Theewaterskloof Dam/Jon Kerrin Photography

Cape Town’s dam levels rising by about 0.5% a day

So grateful.

Cape Town’s dam levels rising

Theewaterskloof Dam/Jon Kerrin Photography

May’s been a really good month for early season rain in the Western Cape. It hosed down on Monday and there is more rain in Cape Town’s future.

Even better news is that the dam levels in the drought-stricken region keep climbing. At the start of the week, dam levels were 24% full overall with one of the biggest dams – Theewaterskloof – at 14:9%.

On Wednesday, 30 May, levels had risen to 24.8% with the Theewaterskloof 15.8% full. Incredible.

There are a lot of factors to consider – and we’ll get to them in a bit –  but as one member of Cape Town’s water shedding group points out:

Another 4 BL (billion litres) added to our major CoCT dams over the last 24 hours. Currently now almost 50 BL more in storage than a year ago. (223 BL vs 176 BL)……..and more rain will push this week’s inflows to nearly a 5% total overall increase, I think. Really excellent for late May & a far better early start to winter than any of our 3 previous “drought years”.

The reason for the rise in dam levels

There are a few things to consider. First, the drop in temperatures means evaporation is much less. Shorter daylight hours also means less exposure.

Secondly, people are more aware of their usage – and perhaps a touch more compliant compared to a year ago. Even though the average usage is still higher than the target (505 Ml/d vs the target of 450 Ml/d) it is lower compared to last year’s average of 666 Ml/d.

Thirdly, rainfall helps, of course, and as you know by now, Cape Town has had higher rainfall in May compared to the previous “drought years”. Augmentation systems, albeit small, are also coming slowly coming online and easing pressure on the dams.

There is a long way to go yet, though, and you must keep doing what you can to save every single drop to give the dams chance to recover.

For context, here’s a graph of Cape Town’s dam levels across ten years

Photo: City of Cape Town

The red dot edging upwards is a good sign. Let’s keep it climbing.

All of this, though, still begs the question: why did we not act sooner?