The Vaal Dam. Photo: DWS

Gauteng’s water restrictions are over. This was announced by Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane at the opening of the sluice gates at the Vaal Dam on Sunday afternoon after the Vaal Dam’s water levels soared to 100%.

The province is expected to announce the lifting of restrictions once discussions with municipalities have taken place.  

Mokonyane said that 386 million cubic meters of water flowed into the Vaal’s river systems as a result of the past week’s rain.

Many locals who were relieved to see the dam reach maximum capacity came out to watch the minister open the gates.

Oliver Silenge, a local resident, reacted to the opening of the gates and said he hoped the country’s leaders learned a lesson from the water shortage – that more dams should be built.

The department’s spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said it would closely monitor water levels to decide how long it will keep the dam’s sluice gates open.

Towards the end of last year, Gauteng implemented strict water restriction in an effort to reduce water consumption. In Johannesburg in particular, restrictions prohibited people from watering their gardens during the day or washing vehicles using a hosepipe.

According to Business Day, the lifting of restrictions in Gauteng will be gazetted today (Monday) with immediate effect.

Parts of SA still battling

Mokonyane announced that 57 dams around the country are now above 100%. Although the country’s drought outlook is looking up in some areas, Mokonyane added that recent rains have not had a significantly positive effect other areas across the country, particularly in the Western Cape.

Mokonyane maintains that it will take South Africa at least three years to recover from the effects of the drought.

As from this weekend, the Western Cape only has about 124 days of potable water left.

In other parts of the country, dam level increases were recorded in the Free State‚ Gauteng Limpopo‚ Mpumalanga‚ Northern Cape and North West provinces.

The Western Cape’s dam levels are currently at 32.8%. This time last year, the province’s average dam levels were 49.15%.

Mokonyane has also expressed concern over dam levels in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal as levels are currently lower than they were last year. The Eastern Cape is hovering just over 60% and KZN is just under 50%.

More rain is expected in Gauteng at the end of the week. Mokonyane has warned residents in low-lying areas near the Vaal Dam and the Orange River of possible flooding.