Cape Town dams hit 90% for the first time in 2020

Theewaterskloof Dam. Picture: Henk Kruger / ANA / African News Agency

This is significantly up from 2019 levels when the capacity was 81% and the largest dam, Theewaterskloof, was at 72.2%.

Cape Town dams have passed the 90% mark for the first time this year as consistent rain helps to replenish the city’s water supply.

According to data from the City of Cape Town, dam levels were 90.7% as at 31 August and the key Theewaterskloof Dam was at 87.9%.

This is significantly up from 2019 levels when the capacity was 81% and the largest dam, Theewaterskloof, was at 72.2%.

Western Cape dam levels are also improving at 69.5% of capacity, up from last year at 66% at the same time.

South African Weather Service (SAWS) data revealed that rainfall was healthy in July with several stations reporting above-normal rainfall over the month ending on 1 August.

Drought conditions

Western Cape weather stations in Atlantis, Cape Columbine, Darling and Lambertsbaai all reported rainfall well in excess of the norm, and very few stations reported rainfall below 10mm.

While the rainfall and dam levels are good news for the Western Cape, the SAWS warned that overall, South Africa was still a water-stressed country.

“During the three-month period from May to July 2020, nearly the entire country received below-normal rainfall. Near-normal to above-normal rainfall was received in parts of the Western and Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, [the] North West and Mpumalanga,” reads the SAWS Drought Monitoring – July 2020 report.

It warned that the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape remained vulnerable to drought conditions.

South Africans have to prepare for hotter weather as the climate slowly shifts.

According to the SAWS Annual State of the Climate 2019, last year was 1.1°C hotter than the norm (as calculated from the 1981 – 2010 reference period) which was an indication of 0.16°C warming per decade.

That report highlighted the very dry (less than 75% of normal rainfall) 2017 for the Western Cape. One has to go back all the way to 1996 for the previous wet year (more than 125% of normal rainfall).

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