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By Citizen Reporter


SA urged to save water as Vaal Dam level drops to 37%

The rest of the country’s water situation remains stable with dam levels holding out at 60% since the beginning of September.

Despite Gauteng’s dam levels being stable, residents in the province were urged to save water, said the department of water and sanitation (DWS) in a statement.

According to the department’s latest dam levels report, Gauteng’s water storage has shown some signs of stability as dam levels stands at 97.4% as the dry winter season nears its end.

“The Bon Accord Dam, which is in the north of Pretoria, has soared to 104.5%, an increase from last years’ 101.8% dam level.

“This is followed by Rietvlei Dam outside Pretoria at 99.8% and Bronkhorstpruit Dam with a slight decrease at 93.6%. The Roodeplaat Dam remains above the 100% mark as it recorded at 100.2%.”

The department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau told The Citizen that the Vaal Dam, which supplies water to approximately 46% of South Africa’s economy and 33% of the rest of the population, stood at a low of 37%. The dam was 58% full in September 2019.

Johannesburg Water have also warned residents of two planned water interruptions, which is expected to take place next week, Roodepoort Record reports.

Johannesburg Water said the first interruption was scheduled for Wednesday, 16 September.

“Residents will be without water from 10am to 3pm while Rand Water installs a new bulk meter.”

The areas that will be affected by the interruptions include Honeydew, Honeydew Manor, Honeydew Ridge, Laser Park, Harveston, Wilgeheuwel and Eagle Canyon.

The second interruption is scheduled for Thursday, 17 September, and will last six hours.

“Maintenance will be conducted on the 750mm line from 9am to 3pm, leaving areas such as Flora Cliff, Weltevreden Park, Constantia, Constantia Kloof and Helderkruin without water.”

Johannesburg Water urged residents to use water sparingly, as level 1 water restrictions were still in place.

Dam levels

Meanwhile, the rest of the country’s water situation also remains stable with dam levels holding out at 60% since the beginning of September.

The dam levels showed that there is an average 21,191.2 cubic metres of water in storage across South Africa according to the department’s weekly report.

The department said the report also indicated that dam levels have plummeted by 15% since the beginning of winter, declining by an average 1% week-on-week.

“Free State remains at the top with the highest dam levels in the country. Although it dropped its levels marginally, the province recorded 76,9% of capacity this week. It is followed by Gauteng and Northern Cape at 97.4% and 95.5% respectively.

“Both provinces have the smaller dams that fill up quickly compared to the Free State which has the biggest and deepest reservoirs.

“Gariep Dam in Free State is the biggest water reservoir in the country and has peaked at 80.7% while Sterkfontein on the south-east of the province continues to be steady at 93.9%.”

The department said Western Cape’s dam levels were improving as in the winter rainfall area recorded a high of 84.2%, which is an increase of 4% from last week.

“The regular winter rainfall has boosted the province’s water situation substantially and the levels are expected to continue rising before the end of the wet hydrological season in about two months. At the moment the provincial average stands at 75.5%.”

Mpumalanga recorded 68%, dropping marginally from 68.6% last week, while Limpopo recorded 60.9%, marginally lower than the 61.3% a week ago.

“Driekoppies and Maguga dams on the Lowveld of Mpumalanga are drifting at 72.2% and 65.2% apiece while Inyaka in Bushbuckridge is on the throes plunging below half at 51.2%

“On average, Limpopo dams have improved substantially, having risen from below 50% eight months ago. The Vhembe big three dams, Vondo, Nadoniand Mutshedzi, held the fort as they averaged 95% capacity.

“However, the situation in the citrus fruit Mopani District is worrying as the three major dams – Modjadji, Tzaneen and Middel-Letaba – hover below 20%. Tzaneen Dam, a major supplier of citrus fruit industry, recorded 12% this week.”

While in KwaZulu-Natal several water reservoirs were keeping the province afloat with their averages of about 80%.

“The Driel Barrage that is supplied by UThukela River tops the charts at 98.1%, followed by Midmar Dam in Natal Midlands at 93.9%.”

A total of four dams in North West has realised the full 100% capacity and pushed the province’s average levels to 65.9%, down slightly from 66.6% a week ago.

“Both Boskop and Elandskuil dams are bursting at the seams at 102.3% and 100.9% respectively.

“This marks a substantial recovery from levels that were at below half at the beginning of the year. The province was one of three whose water levels had dropped to below half in February this year.”

Rainfall expectations

The department explained that heavy snowfall in Eastern Cape two weeks ago helped to stabilise the water situation as the dam levels have maintained an average 50,6%.

“However, the situation is expected to improve in the next few months when the summer rains begin to drench large parts of South Africa.”

With the rain season approaching, the forecast for spring, late spring and early summer, which runs from September 2020 to January 2021, indicate increased chances of above-normal rainfall over most parts of the country, according to the South Africa Weather Service (SAWS).

“The main focus will be on the summer rainfall areas in the northeast of South Africa.

“In general, most of the country is expected to experience above-normal temperatures during spring and late spring, with below-normal maximum temperatures predicted for the northeastern parts of the country during early summer.”

September-October-November 2020 (SON; left), October-November-December 2020 (OND; middle), November-December-January 2020 (NDJ; right) seasonal precipitation prediction. Maps indicate the highest probability from three probabilistic categories namely Above-Normal, Near-Normal and Below-Normal. Source: South African Weather Service.

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