DESPITE the above normal rains that fell across parts of South Africa during the festive period, consumers have been urged to conserve and use water sparingly.
The Department of Water and Sanitation said water levels remained stable after rains soaked most parts of the country over the last few weeks, which led to a much-needed uptick in the national water levels.
“The state of reservoirs report indicates that water stored in the country’s reservoirs had increased to 89.8% this week, from last week’s 86.2%. However, this is down from 94.3% recorded during the corresponding period last year,” the department said.
“Most provinces experienced an increase in water volumes, with the exception of Gauteng and Western Cape, which experienced a decline of 0.4% and 1.2% respectively.
“Despite some downpours in Gauteng, the province’s water levels decreased to 85.9%, from 86.3 last week, a significant drop compared to the same period last year when water levels were at 101.8%,” according to the department.
Meanwhile, the Western Cape saw a drop to 82.3% from the Christmas week’s 83.5%, something the department said was an improvement compared to the same period last year, when the levels were at 61.2%.
Limpopo recorded 81.7% from 78.8% during the Christmas week; Mpumalanga saw an increase from 92.5% to 95.4%; the North West, during the rains which fell over the Christmas week, had levels at 79%, which increased 80.1%.
In the Northern Cape reservoirs had 81.5% from 80.8%; the Eastern Cape 84.7% 84.2%; KwaZulu-Natal recorded an increase to 82.3% from 84.2%; while in the Free State, water levels stood at 92%, after reservoirs recorded 86.4% the week before.
And as the rains fell, KwaZulu-Natal was hit hard, leaving large areas flooded. No less that 30 people were reported dead in by the start of the week, while almost 15 remained unaccounted for.
And still more rains were predicted for the rest of the summer season, with the South African Weather Service saying the country should expect the El Niño phenomenon, expected to continue into early autumn. It would bring both drier conditions severe thunderstorms, and, they said, there was a high chance of heat waves in some parts of the country.
The department acknowledged that there were areas still experiencing acute water challenges, and said concerted efforts were being undertaken to address inadequate water supply.
“Municipalities are being assisted with various grants such as Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and capacity to build, upgrade and refurbish water infrastructure to meet the demands of the communities they service,” the department said.
This as, over 2023, Minister Senzo Mchunu engaged various stakeholders in an effort to unlock some of the challenges that hindered the implementation of infrastructure projects to ensure consistent and reliable water supply to communities.
“It is for this reason that the department continues to appeal to all water users to be circumspect in the way they consume water, and remember that South Africa is a water-scarce country, therefore water conservation is of paramount importance,” they said.
They also asked that communities report the vandalism of water infrastructure to law enforcement agencies, as this remained among factors contributing to water challenges in some parts of the country.