Hydrologists fear the worst as hot weather conditions across the country have led to a drastic drop in dam levels.
According to the department of water and sanitation (DWS), dam levels have decreased by an alarming 4.8% from 73.2% to 68.4% in the past month, a direct result of the heat wave affecting most parts of the country, causing increased water evaporation and water consumption.
DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said “a weekly report on dam levels by the department this week sketches a disturbing picture of the country’s water status that – despite intermittent rains – is dropping week-on-week.
“Hydrologists are concerned that if the trend continues unabated, the government may be forced to reintroduce stringent water restrictions to contain the situation.”
He said while Gauteng dams remain stable at 96.3%, followed by the Free State at 79.6%, the most affected province, North West, was at a shocking 53.4% in comparison to its 72% at the same time last year.
He explained that “the province has 463.3 cubic metres of water in its storage, which is just more than half its storage capacity of 868.1 cubic metres”.
The dire situation has prompted the provincial government, DWS in the region and the Ngaka Modiri District Municipality to convene and work together in an effort to find solutions to the looming crisis.
The hydrologists also predicted a “less-than-normal” rainfall in the next three months.
“Amid the persistent hot and dry conditions across the country, the department of water and sanitation urges people to continue saving water in their domestic and commercial use,” said Ratau.