SA dam levels could take years to recover

It could take South African dams between three and five years to fully replenish after the drought. This was according to a statement released by Cabinet Ministers after a two-day meeting.

Over the past season, South Africa had received its lowest rainfall since 1904, which severely impacted water supplies across the country, and caused the national dam capacity average to decrease to 48,4%.

“We are still very much in a neutral situation and it is very likely that we can expect an extended period of recovery,” the statement read.

The integrated Vaal River System, which consists of 14 dams and primarily serves Gauteng, was currently at 49,1%, compared to 67,9% this time last year.

This system also provides water to the majority of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations, Sasol, irrigation users, mines and industries in eastern Mpumalanga, North West, Free State and Northern Cape.

The Vaal Dam, which is also part of the system, supports 35% of the population. According to the statement, this was the third consecutive week that the Vaal River System was below 50% capacity.

According to the statement, this was the third consecutive week that the Vaal River System was below 50% capacity.

Meanwhile, the Vaal Dam was currently at 26,4% capacity, the Katse Dam at 38,4%, the Sterkfontein Dam at 91,5% and the Grootdraai Dam at 66,3%.

Mandatory water restrictions published in the Government Gazette in August were intended to limit water use from the Integrated Vaal River System by up to 20% for irrigation use and by 15% in urban areas. A technical task team was also established to monitor the implementation of these restrictions.

Cabinet has called on all South Africans to use water efficiently. “All water users must adhere to water restrictions where they are being implemented, and continue to save water. Government is doing all it can to mitigate the current conditions and is working with all stakeholders in drought-affected areas.”

For more information on all dam levels across South Africa (updated on 31/10/2016), visit www.dwa.gov.za.