Watch Two Gates Opened at Vaal Dam! Flood Warning Activated. End of Drought In Sight.

The Vaal Dam attracted crowds today, wanting to witness the moment the Vaal Dam sluice gates were opened. Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, held a media briefing at the Dam in Deneysville, Free State, before opening two of the gates… an event nobody could have predicted three months ago when the dam was almost empty.

Mokonyana delivered an update on the status of the drought and dam levels country-wide.

She pointed out the current drought has not been solely a South African experience but has been felt across the region.

Most provinces have now shown increases in dam levels, with the “serious exception” being the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape.

Mokonyana said: “The increases in most of the dam levels result from the very significant rains over primarily four days of good rains in this past week.”

She said it’s vital to note that the country’s groundwater levels remain low and will take a “good few years to recover”. According to the Department’s assessments, a full recovery from the drought will only be seen in two to three years’ time.

The Minister said with yesterday’s status – Vaal Dam at 94.86%, Grootdraai at 103.1% and Bloemhof at 81.7% – it necessitates a consideration around the lifting of the water restrictions for Gauteng immediately… however, the system review planned for May will still happen to consider the outcomes for the 2017/18 hydrological year and whether further restrictions ought to be implemented.

The Department began releasing water from the Bloemhof Dam, 250 cubic metres per second, on Friday.

“The deferred release from the Vaal Dam will be guided by the daily readings from today, Sunday, through the days to come,” said the Minister. “We continue to request that all those along the Orange and Vaal Rivers be critically aware of the possible rise in the levels of the two rivers. The flood warning protocols have been activated to ensure that we mitigate any damage to properties, eliminating any possible loss of life.”

The Minister said there is a possible impact of flooding on the town of Douglas and the farming community downstream of the town.

The DWS monitors 211 dams – of which 13 are below 10%, with 33 between 10 – 40%… but the good news is that 57 dams are above 100% so most dams and systems are showing recovery.

Source: Twitter/DWS

Mokonyane said whilst the Western and Northern Cape can expect winter rainfall, the situation in KZN is influenced by the insufficient recovery of dams.

“We have to encourage that a greater emphasis be placed on the operations and maintenance of municipal reticulation infrastructure,” she said.

The Minister thanked the people of Gauteng for their efforts to help save water and adhere to the restrictions.

“I trust the lessons learnt on responsible water use will become a norm and a way of life for us all,” she said.

See before and after photos of Vaal Dam.