Johannesburg - As winter slowly looms, low dam levels mean South Africans must curb their water use, the Water and Sanitation Department said on Friday."Unless there is a rapid and significant change to rainfall patterns, there is still a long road to recovery and we face the possibility of a difficult winter," said departmental spokesperson Sputnik Ratau in a statement."The mid-summer rains in some parts of the country have not made any significant impact to get the average dam levels to the desired levels."Ratau said that, while there had been a "slight improvement" in some dams, South Africans still needed to use water sparingly.He said that weather forecasts indicated that there was a reduced likelihood for above-average rainfall between January and April."The continued prediction of lower than normal rainfall by the South African Weather Service could mean that the recovery rate would stretch beyond three years."In Gauteng, the Vaal River system - which consists of 14 dams that serve the province, as well as Sasol and Eskom - had increased by 0.8% to 54.8%. However, at this time in 2016, the system was at 61.9%.The Vaal Dam itself had increased by 3.1% over the last two weeks and its levels now stood at 44.4% capacity.The Sterkfontein Dam was maintaining a steady level of 86%, while Grootdraai Dam was filled to 90.9% of its capacity.The water levels of the Katse Dam in Lesotho had, meanwhile, dropped to 38.7%.Other area experiencing water levels of below 50% in certain dams included the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the City of Cape Town."Limpopo [is] just tipping over the 50% mark, with 50.8%," Ratau said.