Free State dams such as Krugersdrift are reaching critically low levels and are unable to supply farms desperate for water. Hundreds of fish have washed up dead on their banks. Picture: JULIAN RADEMEYER

WESTERN Cape dam levels have risen to an average of 61.2% while the rest of SA suffers the effects of the worst drought since 1992.

The Western Cape, which gets most of its rain in winter, has in recent weeks had a cold and wet spell.

Western Cape environmental affairs MEC Anton Bredell said on Monday that increased rain had helped, but a lot more was needed.

"Last year at this time, we saw the overall average for dam levels sitting at 91%. That shows how far of the mark we still are."

According to the latest national Department of Water and Sanitation figures, levels at three of the Western Cape’s major dams have risen above 50% — Voëlvlei (67% full), Theewaterskloof (53%) and Brandvlei (55%) — but are far below optimal.

The Clanwilliam dam remained an exception at more than 100% full, said Bredell.

"The coming summer season is expected to be hot and dry. We accordingly continue to call on the public to use water wisely to enable dam levels to recover as much as possible," the MEC said.

According to the South African Weather Service, the drought persists over most parts of the country, and recovery will be delayed due to expected below-normal rainfall.