PRETORIA, The Department of Water and Sanitation has again urged South Africans to use water wisely as national dam levels continue to decline, now that the (Southern hemisphere) winter season is in full swing.

According to an assessment conducted by the department on Monday, dam levels are currently sitting on an average of 71.6 per cent of capacity, down from 71.9 per cent the previous week. At the same time last year, the national water storage level was at 53.8.2 per cent.

There has been a fall-off in average dam levels in all provinces. The Algoa System, which consists of five dams serving the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in Eastern Cape Province is at 35.7 per cent this week, compared with 36.4 per cent last week." the department said Wednesday.

The Amatola system, entailing six dams serving Buffalo City, also in Eastern Cape, saw a drop to 57.1 per cent from 67.9 per cent last week while the Cape Town Dams system, serving mainly the City of Cape Town, is currently sitting at 22.7 per cent, a slight increase from the previous week.

However, the department warned that the city is still a long way off from breaking the ongoing drought which has gripped the country's second biggest city for two years.

The Vaal River system serving mainly Gauteng Provinces and its major urban conurbation around Johannesburg and Pretoreia, as well as national power utility Eskom's power plants and integrated energy and chemical company Sasol's operations in Gauteng, is at 83.3 per cent, compared with 83.5 per cent last week.

Water restrictions will remain in all the provinces, with the exception of Gauteng. Residents are urged to continue using water sparingly, the department said.