Are South Africa’s water resources and dam levels currently on the decline?

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As South Africans focus on the growing coronavirus figures and the unemployment rate, do we as a country now have to begin worrying about our water supply?

This follows the Department of Water and Sanitation issuing a statement, stating that the winter’s dry season is negatively affecting the country’s water resources and dam levels. With the exception of the Western Cape, the Department claims dam levels and water resources continue to decline consistently week on week.

“According to the dam levels report issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation this week, the national water storage of our combined dams has declined to 69.3% this week from 69.3% last week. This means that the country has 22200.1 cubic metres of water in store, out of 32012.2 cubic metres full capacity,” the Department explains.

Western Cape water levels have improved in recent weeks due to wet weather conditions experienced in winter. To this end, the Western Cape provincial water storage is at 41.3% this week from 40.2% last week. The Cape Town Water Supply System with six dams is floating at 58.4% this week from 57.9% last week.

In contrast, the drought stricken Eastern Cape is battling to recover as the provincial water storage declined once more to a low 53.4% this week compared to 54% last week.

The Algoa Water Supply System, with five dams supplying water to Nelson Mandela Bay, is hovering at 19.0% this week from 19.2% last week.

Amathole Water Supply with six dams supplying water to Buffalo City improved from 42.9% last week to 43.4% this week. The Klipplaat Water Supply System with three dams supplying water to Queenstown is at 43.2% this week from 43.3% last week.

Furthermore, there is no improvement in Limpopo’s provincial water storage as levels took a nosedive to 64.4% this week from 66.5% last week. Luvhuhu Water Supply System with three dams is at 97.3%, while Polokwane Water Supply System with two dams supplying water mainly to Polokwane stands at 77.0%.

Northern Cape dams have lowered to 95.0% compared to last week’s 96.4%. The Orange Water Supply System with two dams declined slightly to 92.1% this week from 92.3% last week.

Free State Province dam levels have this week experienced a slight decline with 82.7% from last week’s 82.9%. The Bloemfontein Water Supply System with four dams supplying water to Mangaung is at 56.3% this week from 56.8% last week.

Meanwhile, Gauteng dam levels have slightly improved to 99.6% from last week’s 98.1%. However, the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) with 14 dams continues to decline. This week, the IVRS declined to 65.4% from 65.7% last week.

North West province’s dam levels are steady this week. They are now at 70.3% this week compared to last week’s 70.0%. The Crocodile Water Supply System with seven dams improved slightly, from 98.5% last week to 99.4% this week.

Also, on the decline are dams in Mpumalanga, which are sitting at 73.4% this week from last week’s 73.5%. Water levels in the water management areas (WMA) also continued to drop in water volumes, with the Olifants WMA dropping from 67.4% last week to 67.3% this week and the Inkomati-Usuthu WMA further dropped from 71.1% last week to 71.0% this week.

Currently, water levels in KwaZulu-Natal have declined to 61.1% this week from 61.5% last week.

The Umgeni Water Supply System with five dams is down to 73.1% this week from 73.7% last week.

As water resources and dams deteriorate, the Department of Water and Sanitation claims that it continues to roll out water tanks to water stressed areas and schools across the country as an immediate relief to water challenges.

“Water users are reminded that South Africa is still a water scarce country, therefore water saving measures need to be heightened. While everyone is encouraged to wash their hands regularly with a soap, the Department would like to advise that leaving a tap running while washing hands is wastage,” it concludes.

As the water levels are on the decline, what are your thoughts? How do you feel the government should be addressing the issue? Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.

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