Water storage in many parts of the Western Cape has improved significantly, according to the Western Cape water department, a welcome turnaround of the situation following the lower-than normal rainfall during the 2016-2018 rainy seasons.


Rashid Khan, Western Cape DWS Provincial Head says "thanks to the rains and a combination of effective management of available resources, application of drought tariffs for water consumption, extensive communication campaigns, and partnerships with communities, business, and agriculture a potential crisis was averted."


Khan added that "in March 2018 dams such as Theerwaterskloof were hovering around and below 20%. This was the most recent example of a potential crisis which gained international focus."

Western Cape dams levels 'impressive'


He said a completely different picture has emerged two years down the line.


"We see a completely different ball game as the hydrological report of Monday 31 August 2020 indicates the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) is currently at an impressive situation at 90,08% as compared to 61,94% at the same time in 2018."


The Western Cape state of dams is currently at 76,06%, said Khan, which is an increase of over 4% higher than last year around the same time. 


The Olifants Doorn Catchment is overflowing at 101% with Clanwilliam Dam also over the 100% mark.


Cape Town dam levels: Here's how much water has been lost in 2020https://www.thesouthafrican.com/news/latest-cape-town-dam-levels-monday-9-march-how-much-water-dams/embed/#

The Gouritz Catchment, however, which includes the Southern Coastal belt as well as Central Karoo and Little Karoo remains a concern. 


The past summer rainy seasons did not yield the desired outcomes with below average rainfall in the past 5 years.


"To further promote water use efficiency, we will be implementing water conservation campaigns in Cederberg, George, Bitou, Hessequa, Cape Agulhas and other areas in the next six months," says Khan.

Gauteng's Integrated Vaal River System a concern


The Vaal Dam has once again declined this week, painting a grim picture for a dam that is critical for the water supply of the economic hub of Gauteng, said the Water and Sanitation Department.


In a statement Thursday, the Department said dam levels dropped from 37.6% last week to 37.0% this week.


"The relentless decline, which has continued for months, has placed the dam in a poorer state when compared to the levels of last year in the same week when it stood at 58.6%."


The Grootdraai dam in Mpumalanga and the Bloemhof Dam in the North West have also recorded drops this week. These dams are part of the dams in the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) that marked a drop in levels.


For the third week in a row, the Free State's Sterkfontein Dam remained stagnant at 93.9%, while last year at the same time it was at 92.0%. This indicates that this dam, which is a reserve dam, has stood firm for a number of months.


The Bloemhof Dam declined from 97.3% last week to 95.3%, however, it remains in a healthy state. 

Lesotho's Mohale and Katse dams


The national water department also expressed its concern over the continued drop in the levels of the Mohale and Katse dams in Lesotho.


"Becoming emptier with each passing week, the Mohale Dam looks set to hit rock bottom as it fell from 6.0% last week to 5.3% this week. The dam's situation looks unlikely to improve any time soon as in the comparative period last year it floated at 33.0%.


"In an equally dire situation is the Katse Dam, the levels of which are worsening weekly. The dam dipped from 27.5% last week to 26.3% presently, making it one of the fastest dams with dropping levels. The dam hovered under 20% at 17.0% in the same week last year."


The IVRS consists of 14 dams, including the Vaal Dam which is key for water supply of industries such as the energy and chemical company Sasol and the electricity generating giant Eskom.


The Department of Water and Sanitation has called on Gauteng consumers to limit their usage to household necessities and to refrain from watering gardens and other non-human consumption uses.


"The Department encourages consumers to adapt to the present conditions by making sure that the water sources are not contaminated with pollution and that foreign objects do not end up in the limited and diminishing water sources."

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