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Water restrictions to hit Gauteng hard as the country’s dam levels decline 
Water users who fail to comply with water restrictions could face the full might of the law, says Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane.

Minister Mokonyana urged all water sector stakeholders to spread the message of water saving.

She says the Vaal system could collapse unless stringent measures are taken.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has already announced that the national water storage continues to be under increasing stress as dam levels continue to show a steady decline week on week.

As dam levels continue to dissipate, the unrelenting effects of drought are predicted to remain for the coming months; all sectors are required to put in place appropriate preparedness plans at all levels of the water supply chain to prevent dams from running completely dry, says the Minister.

In addition to restrictions already in place, the Department is encouraging water conservation and water demand management, eradication of unlawful water use in the irrigation sector, desalination of mine water and re-reuse as essential interventions to limit the risk of drought restrictions.

To underline the seriousness of water shortages, the status of the Integrated Vaal River System, which mainly supplies Gauteng, has decreased from 72.2% at this time last year to 53.5%.

According to the Minister, the Department is continuing to identify strategic actions to ensure it satisfies the water requirements of communities while urging them to use water sensibly as the water restrictions are set to continue.

The dam levels assessment conducted on 26 September 2016 showed that the levels are down by 0.5% to 51.4%. Last year at the same time the dam levels were at 70.3%.

The Umgeni Dam system, which consists of 5 dams serving mainly eThekwini and Msunduzi is at 45.1% this week compared with 45.9% last week, a decrease of 0.8%.The Hazelmere Dam is at 63%, an increase of 2% week-on-week. The Hazelmere Dam will however be kept below 64% to ensure the safety of construction workers. Water will be released if and when necessary. Other KZN dams which remain dangerously low are: Klipfontein at 12.4%, Hluhluwe at 17.9% and Goedertrouw at 17.3%.

The current restrictions for Goedertrouw Dam will remain at 15% for industry, 40% for domestic and 80% for irrigation. The Vaal River System, which consists of 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng, Sasol and Eskom, has shown a further decrease of 0.6% to its current level of 51.8%. Katse Dam is at 43.6% and the Vaal Dam decreased by 0.7% week-on-week to 30.9% The Sterkfontein Dam has increased to 90.2% mainly due to improved pumping capacity from the Upper Tugela.

The Grootdraai Dam is at 72.1%, a decrease of 0.8%. The City of Johannesburg has indicated that there is a significantly lower increase in demand compared with previous years and all metros have published their water restrictions. The impact of the restrictions is however not yet visible.

The Department of Water and Sanitation announced that it will manage the Vaal Dam down to 25% before releasing water from the Sterkfontein Dam. The Orange River serving the Gariep Dam is at 57.7% which is a decrease of 0.2% and Van Der Kloof Dam is at 61%, a decrease of 1.7%. The Polokwane System serving 2 dams has decreased to 32.7%. Restrictions of 20% for domestic use are in place.

The Department says it will continue to monitor 211 dams on a weekly basis. All water users are encouraged to use water wisely as the seasonal outlook for rain is not looking promising.

Visit the WRC Drought Portal www.droughtsa.org for more news on water restrictions and drought in South Africa.

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