The importance of managing South Africa’s dams
After good rains many of South Africa‘s major dams are filled to capacity. However, we cannot become complacent
By Chetan Mistry
South Africa is considered a dry country because of our unevenly distributed rainfall. According to the Water Research Commission, South Africa has more than 500 government dams, holding a combined quantity of 37 000 million cubic metres of water (or 15 million Olympic swimming pools) and about 4000 privately-owned dams. We invest in South Africa’s future by managing these dams and their sources and supporting the infrastructure that connects that water with communities.
A dam’s many uses
Dams are vital for social progress. The world spent more than USD2- trillion in the 20th century to create large dams and reservoirs, a figure reported by MIT’s Mission 2017: Global Water Security group. They cover many important uses, such as irrigation, water supply, energy, and flood control. Dams are instrumental to modern society, covering many different needs:
Dams are investment accounts for water. Most of South Africa’s rainfall would end up in the oceans, yet dams capture up to 70% of downpours, storing vast quantities of water to support surrounding communities. (SANCOLD)
Managing SA’s dams
But they are not inexhaustible. Unless well-managed, dams can run dry or become contaminated. As cities such as Cape Town and Chennai have experienced recently, it’s an enormous concern when dams levels get very low. The best way is to treat our dams as the investments that they are.
There are several actions South Africa can focus on to improve and maintain water availability:
South Africa has many dams, and they can support our water needs. With sufficient investment in maintenance, planning, and responsible water use, we can ensure our dams keep on storing this valuable resource.
Xylem provides solutions that improve maintenance, management and costs – including power-saving variable speed pumps, UV and ozone water treatment, and big data water management solutions. These solutions can be retrofitted to existing sites, reinvigorating and expanding South Africa’s water prospects.
We can rejoice that dams are filling up again. But we mustn’t forget the fresh memories from drought-stricken parts of the country or that some areas are still suffering from drought. Water can run out, and even the largest dams can turn into mud puddles. But if we invest in dams for the future, our dry days could stay behind us.
Chetan Mistry is Strategy and Marketing Manager at Xylem Africa
WhyAfrica provides you with business intelligence that matters. WhyAfrica specialises in African affairs and natural resources. Africa is our business, and we want it to be yours too. To subscribe to WhyAfrica’s free newsletter or digital magazine, and for more news on Africa, visit the website at www.whyafrica.co.za or send a direct message. WhyAfrica launched its first ever digital magazine in November 2021. The company will undertake a road trip through South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana in June and July 2022. If you are interested in sponsorship or advertising opportunities, please contact me at email@example.com. We have a wide range of different packages and combo deals to give your company the greatest exposure to a rapidly growing, African readership