The country’s dams are rising steadily following intermittent rains in most provinces in the past week, according to a weekly report by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS). At 68.7, they have gone up by 1% compared to last week when they were recorded at 67.7%. However, the department has warned that the sustainability of water will depend largely on the rate of consumption during the dry winter.
In terms of statistics, Gauteng tops the charts with levels having slightly decreased from 97.5% last week to 97.3% this week despite torrential rainfalls that have engulfed most parts of the province recently.
Free State and Mpumalanga, who are also experiencing regular downpours, are hot on the trails of Gauteng with each province recording 79.2% and 74.7% respectively. The rains have increased the total water that is stored in the country to 22 209.4 cubic metres, and this is likely to increase with the predicted rainfall this week.
Western Cape remains a source of concern as dam levels keep dropping week-on-week. The department’s report indicates that the drought-ridden province is currently teetering at a perilous 34.6%. Western Cape has just recovered from a severe two-year drought that cost the government billions of rands through destroyed crops and infrastructure. Should the sliding trend persist, municipalities in various towns in the province will be forced to impose stringent water restrictions until the winter rainfall.
Theewaterskloof Dam, one of the main dams that supply Cape Town, has also dropped its levels to 37.2%. However, Capetonians are pinning their hopes on Misverstand which was bursting at the seams at 100.8% last week. Voelvlei and Berg River dams also recorded 57.6% and 68,4% respectively this week.
Parts of Free State are drenched in water following torrential rains in the past two weeks while other regions of the province are experiencing a severe drought. Farmers in the drought-stricken regions of the province are pinning their hopes on the heavy rains that are predicted by SAWS.
At 74.7, Mpumalanga’s dams are increasing steadily though they are far from reaching last year’s level of 82.5%. Areas in the Lowveld, including Mbombela and White River, have received persistent rains in the past four weeks, bringing relief to farmers and to animals in the Kruger National Park.
Since the drop of temperatures, Northern Cape dams have also maintained a steady level this week at 70.6%.
Most dams in KwaZulu-Natal are also on the rise, thanks to the heavy downpours that have fallen in major regions of the province, including the North and South coasts. However, despite floods in some areas, the DWS_RSA reported that some towns in northern Zululand such as Nongoma, Mahlabathini and Ulundi remain dry as they have not had sufficient rainfalls.
The water situation in the Eastern Cape remains fluid, with some dams having reached their capacity levels while the drought-stricken regions such as Makana continue to experience acute water shortages. Laing Dam outside East London was bursting at the seams with a 100.1% level last week while Makana retains a single digit. The pollution of rivers in parts of the province has exacerbated the water crisis. Swartkops River in Nelson Mandela Bay has been polluted for many years and the municipality is battling to clean the effluent that has deprived locals of clean drinking water.
At 1005.6 cubic metres and the average dam level of 66.1%, Limpopo has sufficient water in storage to sustain it through the dry winter season. However, this will depend on water consumption by consumers who use precious resources for domestic and agricultural purposes. Vhembe and Mopani are known citrus areas whose fruit depend largely on the availability of water. Water users are reminded to conserve water as we are fast approaching the dry season.
Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:
For a more in-depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.