Water restrictions loom as summer approaches

Picture: Alaister Russell

The Department of Water and Sanitation has warned that unless the rising temperatures are curbed by heavy downpours in coming months, municipalities countrywide could be forced to introduce water restrictions.

South Africans should prepare themselves for water restrictions in coming months, as rising temperatures and evaporation place extra pressure on the country’s dams, which would require heavy downpours to remedy.

The Department of Water and Sanitation on Wednesday warned that though dam levels appear to be stabilising, rising temperatures threaten “to affect them negatively through evaporation”, after temperatures reached an average of 30 degrees Celsius in recent weeks.

The statement warns that “unless it rains heavily soon, vast parts of South Africa might be faced with dry conditions that are likely to leave residents with little or no drop to drink.”

The department said water levels in dams countrywide are currently dropping at one percent week-on-week, and should the hot conditions continue without plenty of rain, municipalities “could be forced to introduce stringent water restrictions to alleviate the situation”.

The Nelson Mandela region of the Eastern Cape was identified as an area where the situation is particularly dire.

“The municipality has sent an SOS message for the government’s immediate intervention.”

According to a weekly report on dam levels published by the department, the average dam level in the province is teetering below half.

Another area of concern is the Mopani district in Limpopo, where an ongoing drought has seen dam levels drop to below 20%, with the Middel Letaba Dam almost completely dry at 1,3%. The Tzaneen dam dropped from 11,4% to 10,5% of capacity.

Te department said even the Free State, with the largest quantity of water in the country, has in the past three months seen dam levels plummet, from 87,3% to 75,3%, while Gauteng has seen a drop in its dam levels from 99,6% to 97%.

The drop in dam levels have been mirrored across the country, except for the Western Cape, where winter rains have ensured dam levels increased in the past week.

The department is hopeful that this will provide the province’s economy a boost, by allowing the wine industry to increase its exports.

The department has issued a call to all South Africans to save water and ray for rain.

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