The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) says South Africa has 80% volume of water in its reservoirs for use until the next summer rains.
According to the latest weekly report on dam levels released by the department on Wednesday, the amount of available water is likely to sustain the country through the dry conditions, provided South Africans continue to save water.
“Last month, large parts of the country received heavy downpours that resulted in most dams reaching their full capacity and others spilling. In Gauteng, DWS officials had to open five sluice gates to release water at the Vaal Dam to avoid possible floods,” the department said.
Despite the absence of any significant rainfall at the moment, the report said there has not been any significant change in dam levels since last week.
The dams are currently at 85.5%, an almost 20% improvement compared to the same period last year when they were at 66.2%.
Although dams in the Free State have dropped by 1% from last week, to 98.8%, they remain the highest in the country in terms of actual volume. The province boasts some of the biggest dams in the country, including Gariep and Sterkfontein.
The smaller Gauteng dams retained their full capacity of 100.6%. The Vaal Dam, within the Integrated Vaal River System, is at 104.9%, slightly lower from last week’s 105.2%.
South Africa’s second largest dam, Vanderkloof Dam in Northern Cape, is at 100.5%.
Dam levels in Mpumalanga have registered 88.4%, a 14% improvement compared to the same period last year when they stood at 74.9%.
“Although the Usuthu-Inkomati Water Integrated Scheme dropped slightly because of the lack of rain, the average provincial dam level suggests that the province will have sufficient water in its reservoirs to sustain it through the dry winter,” the department said.
Despite a slight drop to 87.5% this week, Limpopo compares favourably with the country’s best performing dams.
KwaZulu-Natal dams have maintained last week’s level of 72.1%, with the Umgeni River Integrated System contributing immensely to the water situation in the Natal Midlands and eThekwini regions.
The Umgeni Water Supply System continues to recharge the cities of UMgungundlovu and eThekwini with sufficient water supply, despite the absence of rain in the past week.
The South African Weather Service has predicted 80% rainfall for the province between Wednesday and Thursday.
North West dams registered a 1% drop from last week, to 81.6% this week. However, parts of the province, including Madibeng, Ngaka Modiri and Bojanala, continue to experience water challenges as a result of poor infrastructure and the lack of rain.
Eastern Cape dams levels dropped from 55.8% last week to 55.1% this week.
“The Nelson Mandela Bay region, which includes the City of Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, is among the worst affected by dry conditions. The two water supply systems in the province – Algoa and Amathole – are struggling to cope with the rising water demands,” the department said.
Western Cape dams have also dropped to 56.6% this week. However, the department said that with the end of a dry summer hydrological season in sight, the winter rains are expected to boost the province’s dam levels to higher levels.
The department has commended water users for heeding the message to use water sparingly and urged them to continue doing so to survive the looming dry winter season.