South Africa dam levels

The dam wall at the Gariep dam in South Africa / Image via Adobe Stock

South Africa’s average dam levels increase by almost 2%

Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu has praised the latest increases but also urged citizens to continue using water sparingly.

South Africa dam levels

The dam wall at the Gariep dam in South Africa / Image via Adobe Stock

Recent consistent rainfalls in large parts of the country have increased the average dam levels by almost 2% in the past week, a Department of Water and Sanitation report said on Tuesday.

Gauteng, which recorded the highest levels recently, has seen its levels drop from 103% to 98.9%.

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, the report says.

Limpopo’s dam levels continue to rise, 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. 

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 dam levels show slight increase

Average dam levels in the drought-stricken Eastern Cape are up slightly to 51.4% from 50.7% last week, thanks to consistent downpours that have fallen in major parts of the province. 

However, the Minister of 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. 

Sisulu asked water users in the province to continue saving water and to 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 the Tarka River recorded a dismal 1.8% level and Kommando Drift on the same river is at a mere 11.7%.

At a provincial average of 49%, a slight drop from the 50% 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. In 2019, the province made a miraculous recovery from the worst drought in a century to reaching 80% dam levels by October.

KwaZulu-Natal has surpassed last year’s record of dam levels by three percent, going from 57.6% to 60.3%. The reservoirs contain 2,882,9 cubic metres in volume. 

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.

Free State, home to some of the biggest dams in the country, recorded 71.1%, fractionally above the same figure in the corresponding period in 2019.

Sterkfontein Dam, which is part of the Integrated Vaal River System, is stable at 92.5%, while Vanderkloof is at 60.7%. Fika-Patso Dam near QwaQwa remains almost empty at 10.4%.

Vaal Dam still comparatively low

The iconic Vaal Dam, bordering both Free State and Gauteng provinces, is up at 57.4% as against the 56.9% last week. The Vaal Dam is still much lower than at the same time in 2019 when it was at 71.7%.

The North West took a slight knock when its dams dropped from 67.3% to 66.8% in the past week. However, comparatively speaking, the province’s dam have improved greatly in the past four months rising from 43.7% in November.

The figures reflect the real impact of the late rains this summer, with very high temperatures that resulted in high evaporation rates. All these indicate the unavoidable impacts of climate change and the continued need to safeguard the country’s scarce water resources, the report said.

“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,” the report said.

By African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Naomi Mackay