South Africa dams remain at low levels despite recent rain

Aerial image of Vaal Dam. Photo Courtesy: YouTube
Aerial image of Vaal Dam.
Photo Courtesy: YouTube

Despite heavy downpours across South Africa, not enough rainfall has been received to fill some dams.

Hydrologist, geologist and palaeontologist Dr. Gideon Groenewald said the current rainfall received in drought-stricken areas across the country may appear to be sufficient, but it was not.

Groenewald said in places like Makhanda, formerly known as Grahamstown, and Graaff-Reinet where over 40mm of rain was received, the dams were still empty.

South Africa’s Department of Water and Sanitation said the rains in Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga and Limpopo also failed to improve the country’s water situation, with dam levels still dropping by one percent weekly.

National dam levels have dropped from 57.6% to 56.1% this week.

Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said hydrologists attributed this state of affairs to the heavy rains falling in regions that have little or no catchment areas.

“The latest report that was issued by the department suggests the heavy rains only had an impact on smaller dams in regions that did not have sufficient catchment areas to harness rainwater,” said Ratau.

An overview report by the department shows that overall, at the national level, dams are still at a lower average level and still falling slightly despite a few increases.

“Dams in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Lesotho continued their modest decreases, while significant drops were recorded in the Free State and Western Cape. The Western Cape has entered its dry summer hydrological season until May next year. Dams in Mpumalanga, upper Limpopo and the northern Free State will benefit from the Gauteng run-off over the next week,” according to the report.

“The weekly report painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in the Eastern Cape, where vast parts of the region are experiencing extremely dry conditions to a complete drought. Regions under stress are Butterworth, towns falling under the Chris Hani District Municipality and eight others under the jurisdiction of Joe Gqabi,” Ratau said.