Top 10 Biggest Dams In South Africa 2020

Here is a list of the top 10 biggest dams in South Africa. A dam is an artificial barrier constructed to stops or restricts the flow of water or underground streams. Reservoirs created by dams do not only reduce floods but also provide and supply water for activities such as irrigation, human consumption, industrial use, aquaculture, and navigability. Hydropower is often tapped from dams to generate electricity.

A dam can equally be used to collect and store water which can be evenly distributed between locations. The general purpose of Dams is to retain water. The ten largest dams in South Africa are:

Top 10 Biggest Dams In South Africa 2020

1. Gariep

    • Province: Free State
    • Capacity: 5, 340, 600 megalitres

This is the largest dam in South Africa This dam is built by Dumez, a French company, the Gariep Dam is South Africa’s biggest dam. It is built near the town of Norvalspont, not far from the Free State and the Eastern Cape. Its principal purpose is for irrigation, domestic, and industrial use as well as for the generation of power.

The Gariep Dam was originally named the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam on its commission in 1971. The dam is built on the Orange River which is about 48 km north-east of Colesberg and 208 km south of Bloemfontein. It is situated in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley, about 5 km east of Norvalspont.

2. Vanderkloof Dam

    • Provinces: Northern Cape & Free State
    • Capacity: 3, 171, 300 megalitre

The dam was originally named the P. K. Le Roux Dam before it was changed to the Vanderkloof dam. It is built downstream the Gariep dam and it is approximately 130 km and the Orange River (South Africa’s largest river in) flows into it.

Vanderkloof Dam was built originally with the intention to commence at the same time as the Gariep Dam, but, construction was postponed in October 1967 according to government measures to curtail the rate of inflation in the national economy.

The Vanderkloof Dam was designed by local and overseas consultants and constructed by the Water Affairs and Forestry Department. Construction kick-started in April 1971 and was finally commissioned in September 1977.

The Vanderkloof dam capacity of the dam is 3, 171, 300 megalitres, and a surface area of 133.43 square kilometers when full. The dam is an integral component of the Orange River Project (just as the Gariep Dam) and supplies water to the Riet River catchment including the various users along the remaining 1 400 km of the Orange River.

3. Sterkfontein

    • Province: Free State
    • Capacity: 2, 616, 900 megalitres

The Sterkfontein Dam, one of the biggest dams in South Africa is constructed at the outskirt of the town of Harrismith, in the Free State. It is part of the Tugela-Vaal Water Project, and it is built on the Nuwejaarspruit. Water flows into the dam via the Tugela-Vaal Project, a pumped-storage scheme which has the net transfer of up to 630 million m3 of water from KwaZulu-Natal. This is stored in the Sterkfontein Dam and then released via the Wilge river to the Vaal Dam when needed.

Sterkfontein Dam is an effective reservoir because it has the depth to store a large volume of water, with very little loss to evaporation.  n 1980, it was raised to its current height of 93 m with a crest length of 3 060 m and a full water supply capacity of 2, 616, 900 megalitres. It has a surface area of no more than 70 km2 at full supply. The principal purpose of constructing the dam is mainly for domestic and industrial use and has been ranked high because of its hazard potential.

4. Jozini

    • Province KwaZulu-Natal
    • Capacity 2, 267, 100 megalitres

The prototype Jozini Dam was completed in 1974 and its built-on River Pongola, in Jozini town and the dam covers an area of 17 000 hectares when the dam is 100% full to its capacity. The wall of the dam is 70m high. The essence of building the dam was to mainly supply water to local farmers on the Makatini flats for the cultivation of crops such as maize, cotton, and sugar cane. Jozini Dam is built in a beautiful part of northern KZN, the western side of the Lebombo mountain range; an area characterized by subtropical weather, bushveld, and wildlife.

5. Vaal

    • Province: Free State & Gauteng
    • Capacity 2, 603, 400 megalitres

The Vaal Dam, the fifth largest dam in South Africa was constructed in 1938, it shares water between provinces in terms of borders including Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Free State province.

The Vaal Dam in terms of the surface area is officially South Africa’s 2nd biggest dam and the 4th largest dam by water volume.  The initial height of the wall was 54.2 meters before it was raised to 60m in 1960 but in 1985, it was raised again to 63.5 m to meet the increasingly high demands which now offered a maximum capacity of 2, 603, 400 megalitres of water.

The Vaal Dam spans over a surface area of 322 km. The dam is situated within the Vaal River but water can flow into it through the Sterkfontein dam if the water levels drop too low.

6. Bloemhof

    • Provinces: North West & Free State
    • Capacity: 1, 240, 200 megalitres

The Vaal River is the source of water for the Bloemhof Dam and among one of the biggest dam in South Africa, spanning across an area of about 25 000 hectares and reaching over 100 km upstream from the dam wall. It was initially named as the Oppermansdrif Dam at the time of construction in the late 1960s.

The length of the wall of the dam is totaled at 4 270 m, it has not lagged very shallow reservoir. The principal reason for constructing the Bloemhof Dam was to hold runoff originating below the Vaal Dam in order to supply water to users in the Lower Vaal River area. The dam supplies water to various industrial and municipal users which are mostly used for riparian irrigation along the Vaal River totaling 17 000ha.

7. Kruismans River

    • Province: Western Cape
    • Capacity: 637, 900 megalitres

The Kruismansrivier Dam is a very large-scale reservoir of dramatic proportions.  The Kruismansrivier Dam was constructed by the Water Affairs and Forestry Department in 1992 for the sole purpose of irrigation. The hazard potential of the dam is ranked significant. This 18-meter-high reservoir has a total capacity of 1 500 00 cubic meters and an 18-hectare surface area.

8. The Waters Kloof

    • Province: Western Cape
    • Capacity: 480, 200 megalitres

The distance of this dam to Cape Town is approximately one and a half hours drive, situated on the outskirts of the Villiersdorp town. Theewaterskloof Dam is a large water reservoir having a surface area of 48 square kilometers and a capacity of 480 million cubic meters when full. It was designed and completed by the Water Affairs and Forestry Department in 1980, the primary reason is to supply water to the greater Cape Metropolitan area and the Riviersonderend Valley.

9. Greater Brandvlei

    • Province: Western Cape
    • Capacity: 474, 046 megalitres

The Greater Brandvlei Dam is located between the R43 to Hermanus and the R101 to Cape Town and the R43. The Dam is located on a tributary of the Breede River, near Worcester in the Western Cape and an earth-fill type dam. It was constructed in 1989 by merging the original Brandvlei Dam (Lake Marais) and the Kwaggaskloof Dam after reconstruction. It is primarily for irrigation purposes.

10. Woodstock Dam

    • Province: KwaZulu-Natal
    • Capacity of 373.26 million cubic meters

Woodstock dam is constructed on the upper reaches of the Tugela, KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. It’serves as the main source of water for the Thukela-Vaal Transfer Scheme. In 1982 the dam was commissioned and has a storage capacity of 373.26 million cubic meters (13.182 ×10 9 cu ft) as well as a surface area of 29.129 sq km (11.247 sq mi), the dam wall is 54 meters (177 ft) high. The dam supplies water mainly to the municipal and industrial water supply.



Aside from South Africa been a beautiful country it also has spectacular Dams to meet the demands of her populace. It’s not just to supply water alone but some are used for tourism as well. 

Tag: Biggest Dams In South Africa