Cape Town dam report: we’re at 37% full, but massively overusing water

cape town dam brandvlei dam August 2017

It’s been a while since we’ve published an updated Cape Town dam level report, but rest assured, the situation hasn’t exactly seen a marked improvement.

Although August was among the wettest months of the year, the second weekend in September saw the city’s combined dam storage tip the 37% mark (pdf).

That’s a 2.1% increase over the previous week.

Star performers include the Berg River Dam — at 61.1% full — which is now just over 9% emptier than at the same point last year. The upper Steenbras Dam is 102.3% full — around 5% more than at the same point last year too.

But that’s where the good news ends.

cape town dam levels 11 september 2017

The Theewaterskloof Dam is still languishing in the 20% full range, only topping out at 26.4% at the beginning of the week. That’s nearly three times less water than September 2016’s levels.

The Voelvlei, Wemmershoek and lower Steenbras dams are also all well below their 2016 levels. Western Cape’s other major dams are telling a similar story.

Worcester’s Brandvlei Dam (feature image) is just over 30% full, while the Clanwilliam Dam is at 38.4%. But more worrying is Beaufort West’s Gamkapoort Dam. The Western Cape government is reporting the dam as completely empty as of 5 September.

GroundUp however suggests that there is a little life left in the reservoir, albeit just 7%.

Notably, the minor dams dotted around the Cape Peninsula, Table Mountain and the Winelands are predominantly above the 80% full mark (bar the Kleinplaatz Dam in Simon’s Town).

At this point in 2013, every dam in the Cape Town water system bar three, was beyond the 100% range.

Looking at the cumulative rainfall figures for September thus far, only Newlands is remotely close to its long-term average, with 103mm falling this month. Just 1.3mm has fallen over the Theewaterskloof Dam.

Cape Town’s Berg River Dam, at 61% full, is the city’s star performer this week

Cape Town’s water usage also remains far too high.

Although Level 5 water restrictions are now in effect — forcing companies and individuals who own properties to severely throttle usage — 614-million litres per day is still being consumed. That’s 114-million more than the City’s daily target.

The City of Cape Town blamed those not adhering to the current restrictions.

cape town rainfall 11 september 2017

These water users who have failed to change their behaviour are the ones keeping us above 600 million litres of usage per day and firmly above our essential target of 500 million litres per day,” explains Xanthea Limberg, City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for water.

As they are not heeding our calls, we will continue to roll out interventions to force them to lower their consumption.”

The City will also target commercial properties and businesses that have not reduced their water consumption by 20% year-on-year.

Andy Walker, former editor


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