Demand for water is overtaking supply in the Western Cape, as a change of -0.1% was recorded over the past week in the province’s dam levels. For the week prior, there was a small rise of 0.4% in the levels.

The insufficient rainfall of this past winter in particular can be seen in a comparison between the level of the Theewaterskloof Dam as measured on 25 September every year: in 2013 this major dam, on which the City of Cape Town as well as agricultural regions are dependent, was 104.5% full. Last year this time it was 53.2% full.

This week it stands at 28.4%, of which, it should be noted, the last 10% is not considered usable because of silt and mud.

Comparative levels of the six major dams of the Western Cape, 2013 – 2017. Note the Theewaterskloof Dam in bright blue. See the graph in full size here. Source: City of Cape Town

More than two months ago it was 20% full; the small gains made during the winter could be quickly lost as summer approaches, the rainy season for the Cape passes and water usage increases.

High pressure cells are playing havoc with the Cape’s weather systems through weakening the cold fronts that bring precipitation. A month ago FreshPlaza was told that only storms and flooding could still pull off a decent amount of rain from the 2017 winter, to not only fill the major provincial dams but also the myriad of smaller farm dams, but time is running out and nothing of the sort seems forthcoming.

Meanwhile, the first rain of the summer has just fallen over the interior of the country with some predictions of good summer rainfall to follow.