Concern mounts over below-normal rainfall and lower dam levels in Western Cape

Theewaterskloof dam. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Theewaterskloof dam. File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 1, 2022


Cape Town - Residents in the Western Cape are being called on to save water after figures released by the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) show the total dam storage level in the province is at 63.57% of capacity.

Last year at this time, the level was 76.62%.

The DWS, along along with local government MEC Anton Bredell, called on the public to use less water for the next three months to allow dams to fill up before the province’s traditional rainy season ends.

“Wemmershoek, Voëlvlei, Steenbras upper and lower, Theewaterskloof and Berg River dams, which provide water to Cape Town, are currently at a combined level of 75.42%. This is significantly lower than the level of 97.53% recorded at the same time last year for these dams,” Bredell said.

He said below-normal rainfall and unseasonably warm temperatures experienced during the first half of the Western Cape’s traditional rainy season could lead to water shortages in the province should these conditions persist throughout the winter rainfall season.

DWS spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the SA Weather Service (Saws) and private weather-prediction modelling indicated the Western Cape could receive the bulk of its rainfall within the second half – August to October – of the winter.

Bredell said: “The DWS, in consultation with the provincial government, assesses water availability at the end of October to decide if water restrictions will be implemented for the following year.”

Stefaan Conradie of the UCT Climate System Analysis Group said the City’s latest dam level report, released yesterday, showed levels were currently 75.5%, which was lower than in 2021 and 2020.

“Dam levels are now closer to 2018 levels, the year after the Day Zero scare, than 2021 levels. Rainfall during July in the dam catchments was well below average, despite many days with light rain. Rainfall this year to date is much lower than normal,” Conradie said.

In addition, Conradie said Saws’ preliminary monthly rainfall report indicated much lower than normal rainfall for July and for the year to date.

“We still have three months during which the dams can fill up; and the levels are not dramatically low, so it's not a really dangerous situation yet,” Conradie said.