water stressed dams dam levels Misverstand Dam water drought day zero cape town
Photo Cred: Supplied

Two years ago Cape Town was on the verge of a “day zero” as the Theewaterskloof Dam had reached critically low levels… but this morning, a video was captured of the dam overflowing!


Western Cape, South Africa (26 September 2020) – After five long years of below-average rainfall, critically low water levels and harsh water restrictions, the Theewaterskloof Dam is overflowing again.

Theewaterskloof Dam is an earth-fill type dam located on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp, Western Cape, South Africa. Administratively it is located within Theewaterskloof Local Municipality. It was established in 1978 and is the largest dam in the Western Cape Water Supply System with a capacity of 480 million cubic metres, about 41% of the water storage capacity available to Cape Town, which has a population of over 4 million people. The dam mainly serves for municipal and industrial use as well as for irrigation purposes. The hazard potential of the dam has been ranked high.

Below-average rainfall since 2015 has seen the Theewaterskloof water level drop to critical levels. Water restrictions were imposed by the City of Cape Town in 2016 to meet a target of 600 million litres of water per day, with residents limited to 100 litres of water per day and a ban on car washing, watering gardens and topping up swimming pools with municipal water.

Theewaterskloof Dam dry
Photo Cred: Johnny Miller/Code for Africa.

By the end of the 2017 dry season, Theewaterskloof had declined to a level of 12.9%, with the last 10% mostly unreachable. A storm in June 2017 brought heavy rain, increasing the level to 15%, but overall rainfall in 2017 remained very low. Media footage of the declining dam level sparked the importance of conserving water. Water restrictions in Cape Town were increased from Level 4 to Level 4b on 1 July 2017, limiting consumption to 87 litres of water per person per day. Rainfall in 2017 remained well below average, and by early 2018 the dam was again approaching a critically low level, resulting in water consumption being limited to only 50 litres per person per day, and plans for a possible “Day Zero” in April 2018 when Cape Town’s municipal water supply is predicted to be shut off.

And now, just 2 years later and the essential Cape Town supply dam is over capacity! Cape Town Etc first broke the news stating that this is the first time in ten years that the dam has overflowed!

Watch the video below:

It is predicted that at least 3 years (past 2020) of good winter rainfall is necessary for this dam to return to previous healthy levels and South Africa is still being urged to conserve water and to use water sparingly due to the severe strain as a result of the recent droughts.

Sources: Theewaterskloof Dam | Twitter 
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Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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