Marizka Coetzer
Journalist
4 minute read
6 Jan 2022
6:08 am

PICS: Opening of Vaal Dam sluices wreaking havoc downstream

Marizka Coetzer

Residents say the last time the Vaal Dam was this full was nine years ago.

Five sluice gates at the Vaal Dam are seen open, 5 January 2022. The opening of the sluice gates follows consistent heavy rains over the past few weeks in catchments supporting the Integrated Vaal River System and Orange River. Picture: Michel Bega

The department of water and sanitation will monitor the ongoing rising dam level and continuous downpours of rain to determine if more sluice gates at the Vaal River should be opened to avoid further flooding.

Despite opening five of the gates at the Vaal Dam over the past few days, the dam level was still at 109% capacity.

Yesterday two sluice gates were opened when the dam was at 110% capacity. The first sluice gates were opened on 27 December after the dam level rose to 107% capacity.

By Monday the department had opened more gates. As the level continued to rise a fifth gate was opened on Tuesday, with the water level at 109% capacity.

Opening Vaal Dam sluices wreaking havoc downstream
Five sluice gates at the Vaal Dam are seen open, 5 January 2022. The opening of the sluice gates follows consistent heavy rains over the past few weeks in catchments supporting the Integrated Vaal River System and Orange River. Picture: Michel Bega

The bridge over the Vaal Dam is now busier than ever as passersby and motorists stop to watch the water bursting through the open gates and creating a white cloud over the dam.

Meanwhile, on the dam wall, the rapid flow of water is so loud it drowns out the voice of the person speaking next to you.

There is a massive inflow of 614 cubic metres per second and an outflow of 713 cubic metres per second.

vaal dam rising
Picture: Michel Bega

Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said he could not remember the last time all the sluice gates were open at the dam.

“In fact, we don’t normally. I think the last time we opened the most it was 12,” he said.

Department workers, who could not be named, described a full Vaal Dam as chaotic and said the floods created problems downstream.

The holiday season at the Vaal Dam was cut short when the sluice gates had to be opened.

Flooded properties and walls halfway underwater were seen driving around the dam.

Anchor Creek Resort was one of the resorts that had to close after the water spread almost 200m into the property.

vaal dam rising
Facilities at the Anchor Creek Resort are seen as the high levels of water at the Vaal Dam encroach onto the property, 5 January 2022. Five sluice gates are currently open following consistent heavy rains over the past few weeks in catchments supporting the Integrated Vaal River System and Orange River. Picture: Michel Bega

Deneysville resident Nico Nolte was busy repairing boats at the resort after holidaymakers were evacuated due to the floods.

“The last time I saw the dam so full was nine years ago,” Nolte said. He said he remembered the dam was 112% full at the time and there were multiple sluice gates open.

“But these past days has been the first time I have seen it flood to this extent,” he added. He said the last time it flooded he was working at the resort’s restaurant and the water flooded into it.

“The resort was fully booked last week but when the water level pushed up this weekend, the people had to evacuate for their safety,” he added.

vaal dam rising
Employee at the Anchor Creek Resort, Nico Nolte, points to where the waterline used to be as the high levels of water at the Vaal Dam encroach onto the resort property, 5 January 2022. Five sluice gates are currently open following consistent heavy rains over the past few weeks in catchments supporting the Integrated Vaal River System and Orange River. Picture: Michel Bega

He said the flood was devastating for the business owners in the area.

“Not only did people have to evacuate, but it has been one of the quietest holiday seasons yet,” he added.

The resort gardens, the amusement park and swimming pool, campsite and accommodation were flooded.

Opening Vaal Dam sluices wreaking havoc downstream
Facilities at the Anchor Creek Resort are seen as the high levels of water at the Vaal Dam encroach onto the property, 5 January 2022. Five sluice gates are currently open following consistent heavy rains over the past few weeks in catchments supporting the Integrated Vaal River System and Orange River. Picture: Michel Bega

Nolte said last Friday people were still able to walk and park cars in an area that was now flooded.

“It was so flooded the water measured up to my knees,” he said.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za