It has been a wet start to the new year for residents in Gauteng as recent rains have not only kept the province much cooler than other parts of South Africa, but helped increase the Vaal River system’s water levels.
Rand Water reported that the Vaal is currently at 44,6% capacity, an increase of approximately 1,15% which occurred over the weekend. The average dam level across the country has been recorded at 46%.
Johannesburg experienced level-two water restrictions last year when water levels at the Vaal were very low, however despite the recent increase, local municipalities are still urging residents and businesses to be extremely water conscious.
Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson at the Department of Water and Sanitation, said that overall, the department has seen a 3,2% decrease in dam levels.
“We’re hoping that the rains that are currently falling will reverse that decrease,” he said, while more rain has been predicted for this week.
The department however remains concerned about the country’s water scarcity. It said that a national average of over 70% capacity was required in order to supply residents countrywide throughout winter. It added that current dam levels were not at a satisfactory level and as a result, remained a cause for concern.
Ratau said that the department would have loved to be “over the 70%, towards the 80-85% level to be able to be comfortably through the next winter season”.
Water experts have however highlighted that the hot summer months of January and February is the country’s only hope for an increase in rainfall.
Paul Fairell told Radio 702, “We’ve got January and February left, so if we’re going to have fantastic rains that come down, we’re still going to struggle to get them up to the levels that they normally ran at, at this time of year.”