Dam levels remain steady despite lack of rainfall - water department

2020-02-06 17:58
The Vaal Dam on the border of Gauteng and the Free State. (Lisa Hnatowicz)

The Vaal Dam on the border of Gauteng and the Free State. (Lisa Hnatowicz)

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Dam levels across the country remain steady compared to the same period last year, with only the Eastern Cape below the 50% capacity, the Department of Water and Sanitation said on Thursday.

In a statement, department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the lack of rainfall in recent weeks had little effect according to its latest report.

"At 62%, the levels have reached the same capacity as the same period last year when the country's reservoirs stood at 62,2%," he added. "The report shows there are 19 833.5 cubic metres of water stored in reservoirs."

Gauteng recorded a capacity of 103% this week.

"Currently, the Bon Accord Dam is at 106.6%, slightly down from last week's 107.2%. During the same period last year, the dam stood at 109.1%," Ratau said.

The Rietvlei Dam declined slightly from 100% to 99.7% this week, while the Roodeplaat Dam decreased from 100.5% to 100.4%.

Bronkhorstspruit Dam declined by 0.4% to 100.5%.

Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape recorded 74.1% and 73.7%, respectively.

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According to Ratau, the North West had made a "miraculous recovery" after its dams recorded less than 50% three months ago.

The Vaal Dam, which Ratau said was a source of water for Gauteng's economy, stood at just over 57%. 

"Of the nine provinces, only dams in the Eastern Cape are still below 50%, although they have experienced a meteoric rise in recent weeks. However, large parts of the province are still trapped in the grip of severe drought conditions.

"So far, the province has less than half the cubic metres [892.4] of which 1 809.06 are in storage. Affected residents are crossing their fingers for more downpours soon to avert a potential natural disaster during winter."

Winter rains were expected to fall over the Western Cape from the end of May, Ratau said.

"Currently, the province recorded 56.9% for the winter rainfall and 52.1% for its overall provincial figure. At the beginning of 2019, the province experienced a drought … when its dams plummeted to below 30%."

KwaZulu-Natal's levels are standing at 57.8%, a 3% improvement compared to the same period last year.

"However, while the province's coastal regions have received substantial rainfall that endowed them with green vegetation, most inland towns were left high and dry by the lack of rain. The Umkhanyakude and Zululand regions are among the hardest hit by extremely dry conditions," Ratau said.

Down by 1% for the same period last year, the Free State stood at 69% this week.

"[The] Fika-Patso Dam in QwaQwa, which is fed by the Namahadi River, is almost a dry bed with the report recording its level at a mere 9.6%," he added.

A temporary measure to the water shortage saw water tankers arriving this week.

In Limpopo, water scarcity continued to plague the Mopani District of Tzaneen, Giyani and Modjadjiskloof, Ratau said.

- Compiled by Tammy Petersen

Read more on:    water  |  weather

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