Vaal Dam water levels creep closer to dipping below 60%

The Vaal Dam overflows in 2011. (Gallo)
The Vaal Dam overflows in 2011. (Gallo)

Water levels in the Vaal Dam are continuing to decline, threatening to dip below the 60% capacity.

Currently, the water levels in the dam are at 62%, down from 62.8% last week.

At the same time last year, the dam stood at 95.1%. This indicates a sustained drop over a number of months.

On Wednesday, Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a statement the dam served as the muscle behind Gauteng's economy as it supplied water to Sasol and Eskom. These two industries are at the centre of the province's economic fortunes.   

"Other dams that form part of the integrated Vaal River system such as the Grootdraai, Sterkfontein Dam and Bloemhof dams are hovering at firmer levels compared to the Vaal Dam," he added. 

The Katse Dam is presently in a critical condition as its levels are currently at 18.6%.

"This week's levels of the Katse Dam are a far cry from the 54.7% it recorded last year at the same time. Last week, the dam was at 19.7%. Not much different from the Katse Dam, the Mohale Dam remains in an equally poor state. The dam dropped slightly from 33.2% last week to 33.1% this week. This is not a significant improvement from last year at the same period when the dam recorded 24.9%," Ratau said.

READ: Pollution of Vaal Dam – the facts: 

On Thursday, the department reiterated its call for consumers to be circumspect in their water usage because the slightest negligence might result in water shortages before the wet season arrived.

The latest weekly report by the department estimates the country's total water storage at 22 203.9 cubic metres, a third of the total capacity in all reservoirs.

This is an indication that there will be enough water for domestic and industrial use until the heavens open up later this year.

At the moment, only dams in the Western Cape are nearly full owing to the heavy showers that have fallen in large parts of the province recently.  

"... the Free State, with large dams such as Gariep, continues to store the biggest volume of water at 12 890.8 cubic metres. Sterkfontein Dam, which is touted as South Africa's reserve bank of water because of its depth and proximity to the Drakensberg Mountains, is storing a whopping 92.2% water.

"Four years ago, Sterkfontein came to the rescue of the Vaal Dam after the latter had dropped its levels to an alarming 38%," said Ratau.

He added in the Eastern Cape, dam levels were recorded at 56% this week.

Suffer acute water shortages

"Butterworth residents continue to suffer acute water shortages after the Gcuwa Dam dried up at the beginning of this month. Irate residents took to the streets and blocked the N2, which passes through the town.  

"Mpumalanga is in the middle of the table with its latest dam levels recorded at 66.9%. This is a drop by 9% compared to the same period last year when the levels stood at 77.8%," Ratau said. 

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