12/07/2018 13:42 SAST | Updated 12/07/2018 13:42 SAST

Dam Levels Continue To Rise: Western Cape Edges Closer To Official End Of Drought

Cape Town residents can breathe a sigh of relief as winter rains refill their dams, but the water situation in Eastern Cape is still critical.

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Good news for the drought-stricken Western Cape has come in the form of a dramatic increase in the province's dam levels.

According to the department of water affairs, dam levels increased from 45 percent to 51.7 percent in seven days, thanks to recent torrential rains in large parts of the province.

And that's not all. The South African Weather Service has predicted more wet weather in the weeks ahead — raising hopes that the drought that has devastated Western Cape for the past two years will finally come to an end.

"Levels at the Theewaterskloof Dam, which feeds Cape Town, have almost doubled to an astounding 38.5 percent compared to 18 percent a year ago. However, despite the good rains, the department will only review the current water restrictions when the dam levels have reached 85 percent capacity," department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in a statement.

According to Ratau, water levels in the Cape Town Dam System — six dams serving the Cape Town metro — have increased from 48.3 percent to 53 percent. The system was at 24.7 percent at the same time last year.

Clanwilliam Dam is up from 67.7 percent to 98.3 percent. At the same time last year, it was at 20.6 percent. Voelvlei Dam increased from 44.7 percent to 52.2 percent.

"The report paints a stable picture of average national dam levels, as they were recorded at 79.3 percent — the same figure as last week.

"Comparatively, the average national picture suggests an improved water situation in the country compared to 70.5 percent in 2017. If every South African continues heeding the call to save water and use it sparingly, the situation holds a bright future for the country," Ratau added.

Leading the pack is the Vaal Dam in Gauteng. The Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), consisting of 14 dams and serving mainly Gauteng, Sasol and Eskom, decreased from 86.1 percent to 85.8 percent. The system was at 81.9 percent at the same time last year.

Eastern Cape has the lowest dam levels in the country. The Algoa Water Supply System, with five dams serving Nelson Mandela Bay, decreased from 19.7 percent to a perilous 19.3 percent. Last year, the system stood at 34.2 percent. The worst is the Kouga Dam, which has decreased from 7.8 percent to 7.4 percent this week.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the Umgeni Dam System, with five dams that serve the eThekwini (Durban) and Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) municipalities, decreased slightly from 76.6 percent to 76 percent. The system was at 61.6 percent during the same period last year.

In Limpopo, the average dam levels decreased from 73.7 percent to 72.9 percent, while average dam levels in Mpumalanga remained unchanged at 80.2 percent.