Gauteng municipalities will soon be able to lift water restrictions that have been place for months and in some cases, over a year, thanks to increased water levels from recent rains.

This was announced by Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, as she opened two sluice gates at the Vaal Dam in Gauteng yesterday.

According to the department, the dam reached the 100% level for the first time in six years, a major feat considering the dam had was at 50% in January.

As it stands, the Northern Cape has the highest provincial dam levels at 104%, followed by Gauteng at 90.2%, North West at 86.7%, Free State at 74.9%, Limpopo at 72.4%, Mpumalanga at 72%. The Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal make up third and second last at 63.4% and 52.8% respectively, while the Western Cape still sits at a frightening 32.8%.

The department monitors 211 dams across the country, of these 13 are below 10%, with 33 between 10% – 40%, while 57% are at or above 100%

“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. This in line with our assessments that a full recovery from the drought will be seen in two to three years time,” Mokonyane said.

Mokonyane announced that the current status of the Integrated Vaal River System necessitates a consideration around the lifting of the water restrictions that were immediately announced for Gauteng in September.

The restriction lift will be communicated with municipalities in the province and gazetted accordingly.

“I must thank the people of Gauteng for their efforts in helping us save water by adhering to the restrictions placed. I trust the lessons learnt on responsible water use will become a norm and a way of life for us all,” Mokonyane said.