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After all the rain, and even hail in some parts of the Western Cape last week, average dam levels went down, not up – falling from 34.66% full to 34.49%, the Western Cape government said on Monday.

James-Brent Styan, spokesperson for Anton Bredell, the MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning in the Western Cape, explained that having rain was not enough if the water was not reaching catchment areas.

"If it's raining and the wind is blowing it also has an effect on what ends up in catchment areas," he added.

Reacting to the drop in dam levels, national water department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: "We are so disappointed".

"It's just one thing messing us up right now. We do have rain, but we have high temperatures," said Ratau, noting another aspect to the city's water challenges.

He explained that the high temperatures in between the rain led to a high rate of evaporation and, combined with usage, resulted in lower dam levels.

He warned that this trend was being observed nationally.

"There are other provinces where dam levels are at 60% and keep dropping," he said.

Job losses

In the meantime, Bredell's department has received an additional R95m in the recent budget adjustments for water supply projects, drought relief and other interventions.

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"Various areas across the province remain in a dire state. These include Beaufort West and Kannaland, the City of Cape Town, Bitou and Knysna. In addition, the Matzikama region on the West Coast has become a serious problem, with the agriculture sector particularly hard hit," Bredell said in a statement.

In addition to affecting the availability of drinking water, the drought is also expected to lead to job losses in the agricultural sector.

Dam levels for the Western Cape for the same period in 2016 were at an average 56% full as water restrictions started being introduced after a winter of low rainfall.

Premier Helen Zille was quoted in the statement as saying the provincial government was working hard to help municipalities secure their water supply.

"The provincial government has completed the equipping of boreholes in Beaufort West, with supply projects in Kynsna and Kannaland expected to reach completion by the end of January," she said.

"Following my visit to the provincial disaster management centre last week, I am confident we have the best people on the job.

"All residents are required to continue to save water if we are to avoid the taps running dry," said Zille.

The City of Cape Town was conducting airborne surveys this week to confirm data on water sources along the Cape Flats Aquifer as part of measures to add to dwindling water supplies as the hot summer season kicks in.

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