These incredible satellite clips show South Africa’s dams drying out and filling up from 2017 – 2019

These incredible satellite clips show South Africa's dams drying out and filling up from 2017 until now | Planet Labs


From 2014 to 2017 South Africans across the country, at some point experienced the effects of water scarcity, especially in the metropoles of KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape. But the recent rains, notably in Cape Town have given residents some much-needed relief as dam levels finally see a considerable spike.

Cape Town’s dam levels are now up to 71.2% – a major contrast from 2017 when the levels were a bleak 27.2%. Satellite imagery, courtesy of Planet Labs, shows the drastic difference between now and then.

Theewaterskloof 2017 / 2019
Theewaterskloof 2017 – 2019

While this may be encouraging news to some, WWF South Africa are still encouraging South Africans to be conscious of their water usage. Naturally, it doesn’t take much for South African dams to be depleted as SA is a naturally water-scarce country. With only 490mm average annual rainfall, South Africa receives less than half the global average.

Gauteng’s Vaal Dam 2017 – 2019
KwaZulu Natal’s Pongolapoort Dam 2017 – 2019

“Only 10% of the land in South Africa generates half of the freshwater run-off into our rivers. The need to secure these areas should be a national priority – not only for households and the well being of our citizens but for the economy as a whole,” Christine Colvin, Head of WWF South Africa’s Freshwater Programme told Business Insider.

And according to the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Drought Status and Management system, 6 out of 9 provinces are still categorised with ‘severe drought’ status. Pongolapoort Dam, in KwaZulu Natal, is at a worrying 45.6%, which has remained relatively unchanged since 2016 while Gauteng’s Vaal Dam sits at 64.4% down from 98% last year this time. So maybe save that 10-minute shower for another day or year perhaps.

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