Wednesday, 04 November 2020

Pretoria: This week’s torrential rains in major parts of the country are expected to boost the average dam levels by a percentage or more.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Department of Water and Sanitation said the current levels stand at 60.7% and the storage of water in reservoirs was recorded at 19 448.6 cubic metres of water.

“Last weekend rains in KwaZulu-Natal and North West have resulted in flash floods. In North West and Gauteng, the South African Weather Services (SAWS) has warned of more storms as a result of the whirlwind rain that are expected in both provinces,” the department said.

SAWS has also predicted heavy rains for Gauteng, Northern Cape, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo on Wednesday and Thursday.

The department noted that for the past five months, the country’s dam levels have been on the decline at a rate of one percentage week-on-week, with a drop of an estimated 12% volumes of water.

“The situation was exacerbated by the advent of a hot summer which engendered scorching temperatures that impacted negatively on the dam levels. However, as more summer rains drench the country, dam levels are expected to increase steadily until March next year,” the department said.

According to the latest dam levels report released by Water and Sanitation, Gauteng’s dams have stabilised at 92.5% in the past two weeks.

Although the Vaal Dam on the south of the province has plunged to 28%, the department said this week’s heavy rains are expected to boost the dam levels.

The Free State dams are at 69.2%, with water reservoirs storing an estimated 10 831.6 cubic metres of water in its reservoirs.

The province is home to three of the country’s biggest dams such as Gariep, Vanderkloof and Sterkfontein. Garip and Vanderkloof are flowing at 69.2% and 87.4% respectively, while Sterkfontein is teetering on it full capacity at 94.4%

Downpours to improve KZN drought-prone regions

The week-long downpours in KwaZulu-Natal are expected to improve significantly the water situation in the drought-prone regions of Umkhanyakude and Zululand.

The two regions have experienced severe dry conditions since the beginning of winter which has left most towns desperate for drinking water.

However, the report showed that Midmar Dam in Natal Midlands and the Driel Barrage have carried the hopes of water availability in the province with their flows of 90.4% and 89.3%, respectively.

Northern Cape remains stable at 86.1%, followed by Mpumalanga at 64.2%, while North West and Limpopo are holding out at 61% and 57.3%.

However, the department is concerned with alarmingly low dam levels in Mopani District in Limpopo, where there is virtually no water left in the Middel-Letaba and Tzaneen dams with levels dropped to 0.7% and 9.7%.

Torrential rains to boost E Cape dams

Torrential rains are also expected to boost Eastern Cape dams by a percentage following their drop to below half at the beginning of September. The current level of the province’s dams stand at 48.2%.

Western Cape dams have begun losing their levels at a percentage week-on-week, as the province nears the end of its winter rainy season.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has appealed to South Africans to continue saving water despite this week’s heavy downpours.

“It would take some time before the low dams return to their normal levels.” the department said.