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Vaal Dam levels to impact on city

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“The effect of the shutdown is that no water transfers to the IVRS will take place over this period as the tunnel was drained for work to take place”

CITY residents could soon be facing water restrictions coupled with massive increases in the cost of water as the levels of the Vaal Dam plummeted to below 50%, the lowest in three years.

The Gauteng Weather Services this week tweeted that the levels are dropping fast due to the persistent heatwave, with the current levels sitting at 49%.

Earlier this month, the Department of Water and Sanitation warned that the Vaal Dam, which is one of the critical dams in the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), has been severely affected.

The Northern Cape, as well as Gauteng, is presently experiencing high temperatures and this situation is compounded by the slight rainfalls which are scarce and far in between.

Another contributory factor to the decline of the Vaal Dam is attributed to the shutdown of the Lesotho Highlands Water tunnel for a two-month period for maintenance between October 1 and November 30 2019.

“The effect of the shutdown is that no water transfers to the IVRS will take place over this period as the tunnel was drained for work to take place,” the department said in a statement.

Last year at the same period the Vaal Dam was on a safe 86.6%.

Healthy

Fortunately for locals, the level of the Bloemhof Dam is in a healthy state at 81.4%.

However, due to the combined effect of the shutdown due to maintenance work and lack of rainfalls, the Department of Water and Sanitation has appealed to water users to use water sparingly and to co-operate with local municipalities.

In its latest budget, which came into effect at the beginning of July, the Sol Plaatje Municipality adopted a special tariff that will come into effect if and when water restrictions are announced.

There are five levels of restrictions with stage 1 seeing a reduction of 20% of non-essential use of water, level 2 is a 40% saving, level 3 a 70% saving, level 4 survival and level 5 emergency.

Each level sees the cost of water increasing.

Sol Plaatje municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday that there had been no communication yet from the Department of Water Affairs regarding water restrictions. “However, we should expect restrictions if the situation does not improve and we will then be required to impose level 1 restrictions (which he said were resource constraints-driven).

“Before this happens, we urge our communities to use water sparingly and to avoid unnecessary water usage.

“With the heatwave upon us, water consumption will increase, thereby putting strain on our water supply.”

Regarding the situation at the Newton Reservoir, Matsie said the levels were “increasing steadily”.