Amanda Watson
News Editor
2 minute read
27 Feb 2017
6:50 am

Bye-bye water restrictions, thank you heavy rains

Amanda Watson

Yesterday, two sluice gates were opened for a short while in an operational test in preparation for the dam reaching capacity.

Water pours out of the Vaal Dam at the dam wall near Denneysville, 11 March 2014, the last time the dam was full. Picture: Michel Bega

Water restrictions in Gauteng are over. This was announced by Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane yesterday at the Vaal Dam in Deneysville, Free State.

It was announced on Monday morning that the dam had reached 100%.

“The two to three years have been very difficult for the country based on the hydrological drought that has devastated large parts of the countries comprising the Southern African Development Community,” Mokonyane said.

“Looking at where we come from, a few months ago when the country’s dams averaged a lowly 49.1% on December 16, we average 67.15% on Saturday.”

Mokonyane noted that, as of Saturday, the Vaal Dam increased to 94.86% full; Grootdraai Dam was at 103.1% and Bloemhof Dam was at 81.7%.

The department of water and sanitation (DWS) expects the Vaal to reach 100% capacity this week if the rains continue. But the flow from tributaries into the Vaal River was beginning to slow.

Current provincial dam levels as of yesterday stood as follows: Eastern Cape 63.4%, Free State 74.9%, Gauteng 90.2%, KwaZulu-Natal 52.8%, Mpumalanga 72%, Northern Cape 104.7%, North West 86.7% and Western Cape 32.8%.

“The increases in most of the dam levels result from the very significant rains over primarily four days in the past week, with approximately 386 million cubic metres per day flowing into the river systems,” Mokonyane said.

The minister said groundwater levels remained low and would take a “good few years” to recover. “Don’t go and water your gardens, it’s been raining,” Mokonyane said lightheartedly.

Yesterday, two sluice gates were opened for a short while in an operational test in preparation for the dam reaching capacity.

WATCH: Vaal Dam opens sluices

Downstream, the Bloemhof Dam is already releasing 250 cubic metres per second and Mokonyane warned people to be aware of rising water levels due to the release of water and more rain.

She noted flood warning protocols. DWS monitors 211 dams. Of these, 13 are below 10%, with 33 between 10%-40% capacity.

Concerning the crippling Western Cape drought, water restriction levels have increased, and the DWS was working with some municipalities on using grey water, desalination, and groundwater resources were also being looked at, Mokonyane said.

“It is no longer about desalination or not; it is about how you do it and how best you can do it, to make sure it becomes cost-effective; and how then to manage the tariff structure so you don’t overburden the end-user with the high cost of desalinated water.”

Mokonyane said the lifting of water restrictions would be gazetted soon.

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