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DWS: Cool weather stabilizes South Africa’s dam levels

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DWS: Cool weather stabilizes South Africa’s dam levels

Photo by Duane Daws

6th February 2019


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Intermittent thundershowers in parts of South Africa have stabilized dam levels and managed to keep them at a respectable national average of 62,5% since last week. As a result the country has a combined 323 20,8 cubic metres of water in its reservoirs. Most dams are expected rise when more rains come down towards the end of the week.

The South African Weather Service has predicted more rains for Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal this weekend.


A weekly report that was issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) this week shows that the dams have been fairly stable in the past seven days. A combination of lower temperatures and the consistency of the rain has brought the sliding dam levels under control.

Gauteng, where the rainfall has been consistent since last weekend, has increased its levels considerably from 92,8 to 94,4%, followed by Free State and Mpumalanga at 70,3% and 68,8% respectively. Eastern Cape also experienced an increase of 2% from 56% to 58% this week. The reduction of Gauteng’s hot temperatures is believed to have played an important role in the rise of dam levels, with reduced rates of evaporation.


However, the Western Cape remains a source of concern as its dams keep sliding week-on-week. The dams report indicates that the provincial dams dropped from 52,9% to 51,4% this week. The province officially entered its dry season at the end of 2018 as it is a winter rainfall area. Alarmed by the depleted levels, municipalities in the province are expected to soon announce drastic measures such as stringent water restrictions to reduce water consumption.

The good news is that Voelvlei, Misverstand and the Berg River dams which supply the City of Cape Town have recorded an average 70%. Misverstand Dam stood at 102,1% while Berg River and Voelvlei  81% and 73,2% respectively.

Although Makhanda in the Eastern Cape was faced with the worst water crisis ever after the local river  dropped its level to a mere 6% two weeks ago, scattered thundershowers have improved the situation slightly as the dam level this week improved to 8,1%. There were fears then that local residents might soon queue for water from water tankers if it did not rain.

Generally, the provincial dam levels have decreased by a fraction from 58,0% to 57,4%. The province has the same levels as last year when it recorded 56,1%.  Kommando Drift decreased to 5,8%,%, Nqweba decreased  to 2,1% and Nuwejaars is stagnant at 25,0%.

DWS has formed a partnership with the local municipality and the Provincial Government to alleviate the effect of water shortage in Makhanda. The three spheres of government have embarked on a concerted water saving campaign to ask locals to use water sparingly, including the reduction of water losses.

“Leaking water that flows negligently has a negative effect on our water resources. The problem is exacerbated by flowing water that goes unreported for long periods,” a message in a leaflet read.

In Limpopo the province’s average dam levels are at 59.8% this week, at a slight decrease compared to last week when they were recorded at 60.2%.  

 A weekly summary of Water Management Area (WMA) for Limpopo reflects a serious decline in dam levels compared to last year this time when water levels were at 69.6%. Currently, the provincial levels are sitting at 64.2%. The Olifants is now at 58.2%, a decline of 8.1% compared to last year’s 66.3%.

The Polokwane Water Supply Systems is at 73.4%, showing a major improvement when compared to last year’s 54.7%. The Luvuvhu Water Supply System is at 90.4%, a slight decline from 91.1% from last week.
In Vhembe District, the Nandoni Dam currently stands at 93.81% this week which brings relief to communities in and around Thohoyandou, while Vondo Dam is currently sitting at a satisfying 85.58%.
In Mopani District, Ebenezer Dam which supplies residents in the Polokwane Local Municipality is currently sitting at 64.36% this week, whilst farmers in and around Tzaneen Dam are encouraged to lower their irrigation levels as the dam has dropped to 11.98% this week, which is a major concern. Nsami Dam in the Giyani area is currently sitting at 21.90%, a slight improvement from 19.53% last week.

Dam levels in the Free State remain fairly stable as they dropped by a mere 1% from their last week’s level of 71,5%. Setumo Dam on the Molopo River has hit a record 102,9% while Welbedacht on the Caledon River reached 97,7%

Consistent rains in KwaZulu-Natal are expected to raise provincial dam levels from the current 75,6%. According to the weekly report, Klipfontein Dam in White Umfolozi has reached a 103% capacity following week-long rains that fell in the area. However, MEC for CogTa in the province, Ms Nomusa Dube-Mncube, yesterday expressed fears that several towns in the province might experience drought in the next two months unless there were heavy downpours soon.

Although some parts of Northern Cape are beginning to experience dry conditions and exceedingly high temperatures, the province recorded 66,3%. The Karoo towns that are bordering the northern parts of the Western Cape have experienced particularly dry conditions

The dwindling dam levels in most parts of South Africa have prompted a request for citizens to save water earnestly as the country is approaching a dry winter season.


Issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation


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