SA has sufficient water in storage

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

South Africa has sufficient water in storage, provided it is used wisely, the Department of Water and Sanitation has said.

“With two months to go before the first summer rains, South Africa’s dam levels have risen to nearly 70%, a sign that large parts of the country will not relapse to the dry conditions that it experienced four years ago during the drought,” the department said on Wednesday.

The latest weekly report by the department estimated the country’s total water storage is at 22 203.9 cubic metres.

However, despite the good news, the department reiterated its call for all consumers to be cautious in their water usage. They warned that the slightest negligence may result in water shortages before the wet season arrives.

The Free State, with its large dams including Gariep, continues to store the biggest volumes of water at 12 890.8 cubic metres.

The Sterkfontein Dam, which is touted as South Africa’s reserve bank of water because of its depth and proximity to the Drakensberg Mountains, is storing 92.2% water. Four years ago, Sterkfontein came to the rescue of the Vaal Dam after the dam had dropped its levels to 38% capacity. 

The report painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in the Eastern Cape where dam levels were recorded at 56% this week.

“Butterworth residents continue to suffer acute water shortages after Gcuwa Dam dried up at the beginning of this month. Irate residents took to the streets and blocked N2 Freeway which passes through the town. The local municipality has resorted to water [tankers] as a temporary measure to supply locals with water for basic use,” the department said.

While the Northern Cape’s fewest and smallest dams recorded 84.6% this week, parts of the province are experiencing severe dry conditions resulting in debilitating crops and stock.

The Western Cape dams has recorded above 80% levels in the past two weeks. The heavy winter rains in the province have effectively ended the worst severe drought that plagued the province between 2017 and 2019.

The province has stored 1 164.5 cubic metres water in its reservoirs to prepare for any eventuality.

In KwaZulu-Natal, dam levels are at 59.8% dam levels. The province has stored 2 872.4 cubic metres to a capacity of 4 801.8 cubic metres, making it the second biggest store after the Free State.

Drastic measures against culprit mines 

Meanwhile, the department has warned that it is planning to take drastic measures against coal mines in the Highveld towns of Emalahleni, Middelburg and Kriel who are found to be negligent in the pollution of groundwater.

“It is estimated that 90% the size of Witbank Dam alone of groundwater in the Highveld is contaminated by malcontent industries. Also, the department will soon crack the whip among municipalities that cannot operate their waste water treatment plants that have spilled into yards and streets of most towns,” the department warned.

The dam levels in Mpumalanga are recorded at 66.9%, a drop by 9% compared to the same period last year when levels stood at 77.8%.

The department has budgeted several millions of rands to alleviate the water situation in Nkangala and Bushbuckridge that have been plagued by perennial water problems.

To prepare, the department said, the province has stored 1 697.8 cubic metres of water. –