Heavy rains have increased water levels in South Africa, with the country’s major dams currently containing 85% of their overall full capacity, compared to 64% at the same time last year.
In a statement, the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry said that only the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape have less stored water than the previous year.
The Vaal-Orange – the country’s biggest river system – is currently adequate to fill up all its major dams. The Grootdraai dam on the Vaal river is overflowing at present, while the Vaal dam is near 110% of it capacity, with seven sluice gates open releasing approximately 1000m3/sec into the Vaal river. The downstream, Bloemhof dam is also overflowing at a rate of 1000m3/sec.
On the Orange river the Gariep dam is overflowing at about the same rate. This water feeds into the Van der Kloof dam, which is currently 86% full.
In contrast, Allemanskraal and Kalkfontein dams in the Free State currently only contain around 20% of their full supply capacities. The rivers upon which these dams are situated also form part of the catchment areas of the Vaal and Orange rivers.
In Mpumalanga, the flow rate in the Sabie river at the Kruger Gate of the Kruger National Park is around 1000m3/sec. The Olifants river currently carries around 600m3/sec, with the flow in the Upper Olifants river steady, with the inflow into the Witbank dam at around 50m3/sec.
After a dry span of four years, the Bronkhorstspruit dam is nearly full and is expected to start overflowing within the next few days.
However, all water shortage problems in Mpumalanga have not been solved by the rains. The Kwena dam on the Crocodile river catchment is still only around 32% full, while the Driekoppies dam on the Komati river, providing water for irrigation farming and to communities, is only 43% full. In the upper reaches of the Olifants river catchment, the Rhenosterkop dam is still less than 30% full.
While catchments in Limpopo province are currently generally not as wet as those in Mpumalanga, many rivers in Limpopo are flowing strongly. Strong flows have been recorded in the upper reaches of the Limpopo and flow rates of just below 600m3/sec are being recorded at Beit Bridge.
Although many dams in the Limpopo Province are full, other dams still require substantial inflows during the remainder of the summer rainfall season. The Tzaneen dam on the Great Letaba river is currently less than 40% full, while the Middle Letaba dam on the Middle Letaba river is 44% full. The Ebenezer dam on the Great Letaba river is also only around 40% full.
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