Theewaterskloof Dam

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Theewaterskloof Dam
Theewaterskloof between Grabouw and Villiersdorp, South Africa.jpg
View of Theewaterskloof reservoir between Grabouw and Villiersdorp in 2008
LocationWestern Cape, South Africa
Coordinates34°4′41″S 19°17′21″E / 34.07806°S 19.28917°E / -34.07806; 19.28917Coordinates: 34°4′41″S 19°17′21″E / 34.07806°S 19.28917°E / -34.07806; 19.28917
PurposeIrrigation and domestic
Opening date1980
Owner(s)Department of Water Affairs
Dam and spillways
Type of damEarth fill dam
ImpoundsSonderend River
Height25 m
Length646 m
CreatesTheewaterskloof Dam Reservoir
Total capacity480 406 000 m3
Catchment area500 km2
Surface area5 059 ha

Theewaterskloof Dam is an earth-fill type dam located on the Sonderend River near Villiersdorp, Western Cape, South Africa. Administratively it is located within Theewaterskloof Local Municipality. It was established in 1978 and is the largest dam in the Western Cape Water Supply System with a capacity of 480 million cubic metres, about 41% of the water storage capacity available to Cape Town, which has a population of over 4 million people.[1] The dam mainly serves for municipal and industrial use as well as for irrigation purposes. The hazard potential of the dam has been ranked high (3).[citation needed]

Three water extraction towers are in operation, one for drinking water and the other two for municipal and irrigation uses.

Theewaterskloof Dam water extraction point.jpg

Water restrictions[edit]

Theewatersloof at approximately 12% capacity on 10 February 2018

Below-average rainfall since 2015 have seen the Theewaterskloof water level drop to critical levels. Water restrictions were imposed by the City of Cape Town in 2016 to meet a target of 600 million litres of water per day,[2] with residents limited to 100 litres of water per day and a ban on car washing, watering gardens and topping up swimming pools with municipal water.

By the end of the 2017 dry season, Theewaterskloof had declined to a level of 12.9%, with the last 10% mostly unreachable. A storm in June 2017 brought heavy rain, increasing the level to 15%, but overall rainfall in 2017 remained very low. Media footage of the declining dam level sparked the importance of conserving water.[3] Water restrictions in Cape Town were increased from Level 4 to Level 4b on 1 July 2017, limiting consumption to 87 litres of water per person per day. Rainfall in 2017 remained well below average, and by early 2018 the dam was again approaching critically low level, resulting in water consumption being limited to only 50 litres per person per day, and plans for a possible "Day Zero" in April 2018 when Cape Town's municipal water supply is predicted to be shut off.

It is predicted that at least 3 years (past 2020) of good winter rainfall is necessary for this dam to return to previous healthy levels.[citation needed]

Rainfall and capacity[edit]

Theewaterskloof dam has a capacity of 480 million cubic metres of water. The catchment area of 500 square kilometres is served by streams emanating in the Hottentots Holland mountain range. This area has a long-term average of 69 days with precipitation per year.[4] Historically[5] records show we are in a dry period[6] 1mm of rain per square meter equates to 500 000 000 litres falling on this area. Hence it requires a full metre of rainfall with 100% runoff to fill the dam from totally empty, which is unlikely to happen in any single year. It takes a few days for all the runoff to reach the dam. Evaporation and how saturated the ground is affects the amount of water reaching the dam. An average amount of between 9% and 15% is used to offset the values against evaporation and soil absorption. A deeper dam has less evaporation due to less surface area per volume.

Theewaterskloof dam.png
Theewaterskloof catchment area.png
Theewaterskloof dam and area it services.png

Social events[edit]

The Theewaterskloof Dam is also the home of the annual Synergy Live music festival, one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in South Africa, which typically takes place on the last weekend of November or the first weekend of December.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ List of South African Dams from the Department of Water Affairs
  2. ^ "Residential water restrictions explained". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  3. ^ "Western Cape dam levels up only 1.5% after storms". Retrieved 2017-06-13.
  4. ^ institutt, NRK og Meteorologisk. "Weather statistics for Theewaterskloofdam". Retrieved 2017-07-10.
  5. ^ "Rainfall History".
  6. ^ "Western Cape rainfall".
  7. ^ "Synergy". Synergy. 2015. Retrieved 30 May 2017.

External links[edit]