South African Things

10 Biggest Dams In South Africa (2023)

To start with, let’s first briefly explain what dams are, as well as some of the purposes they serve. What are dams? They are actually barriers built to inhibit the stream of water to create reservoirs, and they are constructed for important reasons, such as mitigating flooding, generating hydropower, storing water for agriculture, human consumption, and so on. I listed the biggest dam in South Africa.

South Africa has a reputation for its magnificent landscapes, amongst other beautiful things. The country remains one of the prominent African countries, leading several others in various important sectors. Many people see huge dams simply as a first-world nation thing. Nevertheless, South Africa also has big dams in various places in the country. These are places where local and international tourists can visit.

In this article, we will explore the top ten biggest dams in South Africa. Let’s get started:

Top 10 Biggest Dams In South Africa

1. Gariep Dam

Gariep Dam has a reputation for being the largest of them all. The dam is located nearby Norvalspont, with a height of 88m, and 914m in length. It should also be added that the Dam can store 5, 340,000 mega-litres of water. It was formerly named after the first Prime Minister of South Africa – Hendrick Verwoerd but was renamed Gariep in 1996. Gariep Dam has the capacity to generate up to 360 MW of electricity.

2. Vanderkloof Dam

Vanderkloof Dam is another big dam in South Africa. It used to be known as the P.K. Le Roux reservoir, and it has the capability to hold 3,187.557 million m3 of water. When full, it stretches across a surface of 51.52 square miles. We should also add that the Dam is fed by the Orange and Berg Rivers (and two additional streams around).

3. Sterkfontein Dam

Sterkfontein Dam is the third-largest dam in the country, with a capacity to hold up to 2,616,000 mega-liters of water. Built by the Department of Water Affairs near Harrismith town, the dam is the largest earth-fill reservoir. Sterkfontein Dam is majorly used for domestic and industrial purposes. Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve (a protected area), was built as a tourist attraction zone.

4. Vaal Dam

Another large dam in South Africa is the Vaal dam. The dam is constructed on the Vaal River and is the fourth largest dam in the country by water capacity. Although constructed on the Vaal River, the dam is also fed by the likes of Wilge and Klip rivers. It can hold up to 2,609,799,000 cubic metres of water, and due to its size, several water sports are being organized there (including fishing). So, while one of its major functions is to mitigate flooding, it also serves other interesting functions.

5. Pongolapoort Dam/ Lake Jozini

Regarded as the fifth largest dam in South Africa and constructed on the Phongolo River, the Pongolapoort Dam/ Lake Jozini was majorly constructed for irrigation purposes. The reservoir’s total water capacity is 2,445,900,000 m3, and it is currently home to different animals ( including rhinos, giraffes, zebras, etc).

6. Bloemhof Dam

The Bloemhof Dam is the sixth one around here. It used to be known as the Oppermansdrif Dam, and it has a length of 4,270. The dam can hold up to 1,269,000,000 m3 of water and is fed by several rivers (such as the Vaal and Vet rivers and the Vals and Sand Rivers). It is regarded as the sixth largest dam in South Africa.

7. Kruismansrivier Dam

The Kruismansrivier Dam is located in Western Cape and is the seventh biggest dam in the country. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is in charge of the dam, and it is used for irrigation. Opened back then in 1992, the Kruismansrivier reservoir holds up to 1,500,000 m³. It should be added that the hazard potential of the water is also considerably high. Hence, it is necessary to apply caution when around here and seek directives from officials.

8. Theewaterskloof Dam

Another large dam the country can boast of is the Theewaterskloof dam. It was constructed on the Sonderend River in Western Cape. It is used for irrigation and serves industrial purposes. The dam holds up to 480 million cubic meters of water and also serves domestic purposes.

9. Greater Brandvlei Dam

The Greater Brandvlei is the ninth on the list, with a total capacity of 459,000,000 m3. It is primarily used for irrigation and the area is famously used for fishing (although it is a risky activity here due to the presence of things like stumps, submerged weed, etc). Hence, it is necessary to seek directives from officials working there and yield their advice to be on the safe side. Safety should be highly prioritized whenever you have anything to do around here.

10. Heyshope Dam

Finally on the list is the Heyshope Dam, which was opened back in 1986. It is managed by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and has the capacity to hold up to 453 4400 000 m³ of water. The Heyshope Dam is located in Mpumalanga and is regarded as the tenth-largest dam in the country.