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Water depart keeping close eye on Vaal Dam as it nears full capacity

The department says it will be watching the Vaal Dam closely as it prepares to open two of its sluice gates tomorrow.

A gate at the Vaal Dam is opened. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Water and Sanitation Department says it will be keeping a close eye on the Vaal Dam today as it is expected to reach full capacity in the coming week.

This week the dam levels exceeded 85%, the highest they have been in two years.

Initially, the department had predicted that the Vaal Dam would reach the 100% mark by tomorrow, however, officials now say that will probably happen early next week.

The department says it will be watching the Vaal Dam closely as it prepares to open two of its sluice gates tomorrow.

Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said, “We’re still scheduled to open the two sluice gates on the Vaal Dam on Sunday. We’re keeping a close eye on the dam on a 24-hour basis, therefore, we believe that we’ll not be caught wanting in terms of any changes to the situation.”

He says warnings will continue to be sent out to people living in areas surrounding the dam to evacuate the space speedily.

Ratau said while the department is pleased with the progress in levels in the Vaal and Bloemhoff Dams, it cannot say whether it will be lifting water restrictions any time soon.

POSSIBLE FLOODING

The department says in order to avoid the dams from bursting, they will open two sluice gates at the Vaal Dam and eight at the Bloemhof Dam, which could result in flooding.

Residents of Douglas, where the Vaal and Orange rivers meet, have been told to be especially vigilant.

Ratau said they are doing all they can to ensure to mitigate damage to property and loss of life.

“We would be working together with the municipalities, other national government departments, like Cooperate governance and traditional affairs, and therefore through those we will be in contact with emergency services, the SAPS, the SANDF and all other spheres of national government.”

On Thursday, the Department said Vaal Dam levels had passed the 81% mark, the highest it’s been in two years.

The dam’s levels fell significantly last year due to the drought which gripped parts of South Africa.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)