Residents across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) have been urged to use water sparingly as temperatures rise and the national department of water and sanitation saying it had recorded a drop in dam levels across the province and South Africa.
The department’s national spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau, said via a statement on Thursday that KZN’s dam levels had dropped from 52.1% capacity to 51.7% over the course of a week.
Ratau said that while the decrease may seem insignificant, it was cause for concern.
“High temperatures cause water to evaporate and this obviously impacts on water levels. We are hoping that the summer rains expected towards the end of November and early December will rescue the situation,” he said.
The majority of the dams across the province had recorded an average 1% drop.
Albert Falls, one of the biggest dams in the province, dropped from 30.1% to 29.2%. At optimum levels, the dam holds around 288,100 megalitres (ML) of water and covers a surface area of around 23 square kilometres.
A 1% drop accounts for around two-billion litres of water.
Ratau said that the department and local government had been working towards mitigating the problem by providing water tanks and tankers to communities in need.
“We understand the frustrations and the plight of the people. As a department mandated to provide this basic need, we are doing the best that we can to support municipalities in enabling them to function optimally.”
He said that anyone caught vandalising water infrastructure would face “the full might of the law”.
KwaZulu-Natal was not the only province to record a decrease. The Vaal Dam in Gauteng province also saw levels drop by around 1%.
“Presently the Vaal Dam hovers at 29.1%, down from 30.2% last week,” said Ratau.
“Even as the Vaal Dam persists to drop weekly, it is not at a point wherein the populous [of] Gauteng faces prospects of a day zero. The Vaal Dam is part of 14 dams of the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), which continues to sustain it.”
Dam levels in Mpumalanga province had experienced similar.
“According to the DWS weekly state of reservoirs report of 26 October 2020, the average water levels in the listed dams in the Mpumalanga province recorded a drop from 65.5% to 64.9%.”