Vaal Dam levels have seen a slight increase this week. The dam stood at 29.9% last week, but has risen to 30.2%.

While restrictions don’t seem to be on the cards, the low levels are taking their toll.

However, prospects for rain and normal dam levels are encouraging.

Where there should be water, the ground is visible and vehicles can park anywhere; even below the walk-ways.

It’s a grim picture, leaving water sport enthusiasts disappointed.

Vaal dam levels hovering below 40%:

Sailor Japie Vermaak says this is the second time he’s seen the dam so low.

“We’ve been coming to the dam since I was 10 years old. This is the second time I’ve ever seen the dam so low.”

The 55-year-old Vermaak and his team are waiting for the heavens to open.

“The water levels must rise until 50% so that I can launch my boat again…The water got to be up there, at least 50% just to launch a boat; just to get it back into the water, which can’t happen at the moment.”

Just metres away, scores of boats stand idle. They have been parked for around four to five months.

Security officer where the boats are parked, Henry Ndlovu, has worked there for over a decade.

“The water level has dropped, so by the time it dropped, they took all of them out,” says Ndlovu.

He says almost 10 of his colleagues have been laid off.

“Since the dam dried up, the work becomes less. There was less work so our bosses told us ‘we have to retrench some people so that we can wait for the rain.’ Because if there’s no enough, rain even the customers they don’t fix their boats; so there’s no need to fix them when there’s no rain and there’s no water in the dam.”

Businesses affected

Businesses are also bearing the brunt. Chairs and tables are empty. No water means no business to run.

And there’s no hope just yet.

“I’ve been here for three years, it’s my first time seeing this water like this. We don’t have rain, we don’t have water; nothing…As you can see, there’s nothing inside here, we only have four or five boats in here; that means we don’t even have clients. We don’t have tips, there’s nothing,” says Chef Mamphane Dlamini.

Bartender Modiehi Mosuoe says they are struggling.

“There’s no water; we’re struggling. All the boats that were supposed to be in the water are all outside, so there’s no business at all; so we’re struggling too much. Sometimes we have to work short hours so that we can go home because there’s no customers. There’s no money so we’re losing a lot.”

However, the last two weeks have been promising.

Water and Sanitation Spokesperson Sputnik Ratau says they believe there’ll be a further rise in the Vaal dam water levels.

“In this week, we saw that due to the inflows from the catchments within the integrated Vaal river system. The Vaal dam is now at about 30.2%, believing that we will be able to see more serious rise in the coming week.”

Ratau says dam levels are rising across the country.

“We are beginning to see the rise in the dam levels and the systems that support these dams across the country. We can see that week-on-week, we’ve just risen above 61.2% volume as compared to the 60.9% we were at about a week ago. It’s even encouraging because last year at the same time, we were at about 59.5%.”