South Africa’s second largest dam dips below 55%

South Africa’s second largest dam – and the main source of water for the country’s most populated province – the Vaal has seen its level drop below 55%.

In March, the City of Johannesburg implemented level 1 water restrictions after the Vaal Dam dropped below 70% ahead of the winter season. That level has since fallen to 54.87% with  the first seasonal rains yet to hit the area.

With Level 1 restrictions, watering of gardens is not allowed between 06h00 and 18h00 in summer months (1 September to 31 March).

Furthermore, residents are not allowed to wash paved areas and driveway using hose pipes.

In May, Rand Water announced a 25% reduced water supply in the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane because of  higher than normal water consumption, and below average dam levels.

It said that the average storage capacity dropped below 60% in some reservoirs including Brakfontein, Klipfontein, and Hartebeeshoek.

“Our reservoirs are currently sitting at just 40% and our policy is to maintain levels of between 60% and 80%. Areas in high-lying areas will be affected first as the pressure to pump water to their areas is low. These restrictions are to ensure we don’t cut water completely,” the water utility said.

The Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) is critical for water supply in major economic sectors in the country including Eskom operated power stations in Gauteng, the Sasol petro-chemical plants on the Mpumalanga Highveld and the North West.

In September, the Water and Sanitation Department said that levels of the dam are lower compared to the same period in 2018, when the system was at 81.4%.

It noted that the Vaal Dam in particular, was at 91.9% in mid-September last year.

Momentum economists noted that although South Africa is in the top 120 countries globally for the number of dams, levels remain below 2018 levels.

It noted that the level of water service has declined since 2006, and since 2009, fewer people pay for water.

Read: South Africa is introducing a new ‘water transformation bill’

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South Africa’s second largest dam dips below 55%