Top 10 Biggest Dams In South Africa (2022)

Currently the biggest and largest dam in South Africa is the Gariep Dam. This dam does not only serve as a water reservoir but also a tourist center that is located in the heart of Mzansi.

There are five rivers that flow into it: the Orange, Caledon, Palmietspruit, Barkspruit, and Oude Spruit. As early as 1965, the concrete gravity-arch hydro reservoir was built and inaugurated in a township located on a tributary between the provinces of the Free and Eastern Cape. An 88-meter-tall, 914-meter-long structure with a surface area of 353 million square meters.

Here is a comprehensive list of the country’s largest dams. The majority of these dam reservoirs are utilized for residential and agricultural reasons, but a few of the larger ones are used to produce electricity (hydropower).

It’s worth noting that the vast majority of dams in South Africa are earth-fill dams, with the remainder made up of Rockfill, concrete arch, and gravity dams.

There will also be additional information regarding the Vanderkloof Dam, South Africa’s tallest dam at 108 meters, on the Orange River.

Top 21 Biggest Dams In South Africa

Listed here are South Africa’s largest notable dams:

1. Gariep Dam

Province: Free State

Capacity: 5,340,600 megalitres

The Gariep Dam is South Africa’s largest hydroelectric project. It’s a hydroelectric dam with a concrete gravity arch. To begin with, the dam was referred to by its Dutch name, the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam.

It is situated near the town of Norvalspont and borders the provinces of the Eastern Cape and the Free State.

When was the Gariep Dam constructed? This reservoir was under development from 1965 until 1971 when it was finally completed.

Despite being privately owned, the Gariep Dam is really a state-owned project.

In addition to power production, irrigation, industry, and home usage, the Gariep Dam was built for aesthetic and functional purposes.

How long is the Gariep Dam, anyway? This dam has a height of 88 meters, a length of 914 meters, and a total water capacity of 5,340,600 mega-liters.

A dam that covers the biggest amount of land in South Africa is the Gariep dam (352 million meters square).

Some of the waterways that drain into the Gariep are these:

  • Caledon River
  • Orange River
  • Palmietspruit
  • Slykspruit
  • Oudagspruit
  • Broekspruit
  • Brakspruit

2. Vanderkloof Dam

Provinces: Northern Cape & Free State

Capacity: 3, 171, 300 megalitre

The second biggest dam in South Africa was originally named the P. K. Le Roux Dam before it was changed to the Vanderkloof dam.

Vanderkloof Dam was built from 1973 to 1977 and put into service in 1977.

A total of 3,236 million cubic meters of water may be stored in the Vanderkloof Dam, one of South Africa’s biggest reservoirs.

133.402 square kilometers are covered by Vanderkloof Dam (51.5 square miles).

The Vanderkloof Dam’s primary function is to generate electricity, and it is capable of doing so with an installed capacity of up to 360 MW.

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. Residents of the Orange River area mostly utilize the waterway for domestic reasons.

3. Sterkfontein Dam

Province: Free State

Capacity: 2, 616, 900 megalitres

The Sterkfontein Dam is South Africa’s second-tallest dam wall constructed at the outskirt of the town of Harrismith, in the Free State. There was a period of eleven (11) years from 1969 to 1980 when the Sterkfontein Dam was finished and put into use.

Sterkfontein is an Afrikaans term that translates to “Strong Fountain” in English.

It’s important to note that the Tugela-Vaal Water Project includes the Sterkfontein Dam as well, built on the Nuwejaarspruit. Water flows into the dam via the Tugela-Vaal Project, a pumped-storage scheme that 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.

The Sterkfontein Dam reservoir has a total water capacity of 2,616,900 megalitres and a volume of 19,800,000 cubic meters. In terms of height and length, it stands at 97 meters.

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. The Vaal Dam

Province: Free State & Gauteng

Capacity 2, 603, 400 megalitres

For visitors to Gauteng, South Africa, the Vaal Dam is a popular destination. Activities include swimming, boating, and even water-skiing at this location.

The Vaal Dam is fed by… It is fed by a number of rivers including the Klip, Groot, Wilge, and Molspruit rivers. Almost 1,200 miles of coastline adorns this nation’s coasts.

What’s the current level of the Vaal Dam’s reservoir? The dam can store up to 2,609,800,00 cubic meters of water at any one time. It is 54.2 meters tall and covers 320 square kilometers in size.

In what year was the Vaal Dam built? The dam was built in 1938 by the South African Department of Water Affairs and Rand Water, a joint venture.

What is the location of the Vaal dam? Over the course of 77 kilometers south of Johannesburg, the Vaal Dam spans three (3) South African states, namely Gauteng (the capital), the Free State, and the Mpumalanga province.

Nearly all of the time, the Vaal Dam is at or near its maximum capacity.

As the Vaal River is projected to experience major floods, a spillway capacity of 25,00 cubic meters/s was built.

5. Pongolapoort/Jozini Dam

Province KwaZulu-Natal

Capacity 2,267,100 megalitres

Lake Jozini is the name given to the Pongolapoort Dam’s reservoir. The Phongolo River serves as the dam’s primary source of water.

There were no other big dams in South Africa when Jozini Dam was built.

KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa, borders it on the Phongolo River, which runs through it.

Animals and the past: The Jozini dam was built in 1973 and is owned by the Water Affairs Department. In addition to the Pongola Game Reserve, the Jozini Dam is home to other private game reserves.

These game reserves feature a wide variety of camping spots for fishing, as well as a number of private lodges.

What is the length of the Jozini dam? An 89-meter-high dam with a length of 451 meters, the Jozini Dam can hold 2,445,900,000 cubic meters of water. The catchment area is 7814 square kilometers.

Ponglolapoort Dam was built primarily for irrigation purposes, 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.

6. Bloemhof Dam

Provinces: North West & Free State

Capacity: 1, 240, 200 megalitres

Bloemhof Dam, situated near the junction of the Vet River and the Vaal River, is one of South Africa’s biggest. When it was first built in 1960, it was named the Oppermansdrif Dam.

In South Africa, it is on the border between the provinces of the Free State and the North-Western Province.

During this time, the dam was finished and commissioned.

The Bloemhof Dam on the Vaal River has the longest crest in South Africa (4270 meters) and is the tallest structure in the country at 33 meters. It has a total water capacity of 1,269,000,000 cubic meters and has a surface area of 22,262 hectares.

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. Kruismansrivier Dam

Province: Western Cape

Capacity: 637, 900 megalitres

To be clear, the Kruismansrivier Dam is located in South Africa’s Western Cape region.

Built in 1992, it is 18 meters tall and has a total water storage capacity of 1.5 million cubic meters. Irrigation and household usage are the primary goals of the Kruismansrivier Dam.

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. Theewaterskloof Dam

Province: Western Cape

Capacity: 480, 200 megalitres

This dam is located on the Sounderend River near Villiersdorp in South Africa’s Western Cape region. You may find it in Theewaterskloof Dam, which is the biggest in the Western Cape. It has a storage capacity of 480 million cubic meters of water.

To serve as a reservoir for both human use and agricultural irrigation, the Theewaterskloof Dam was built in 1980. The Theewaterskloof Dam is 646 meters long, 25 meters high, and spans 5,059 hectares of land.

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 Dam

Province: Western Cape

Capacity: 474, 046 megalitres

The Brandvlei Dam (also known as Lake Marais) and the Kwaggaskloof Dam were combined to create this new structure.

A total of 459 million cubic meters of water may be stored in the reservoir, which was finished in 1989 and opened to the public.

One of the largest in the world, it stands at 21.5 meters tall and covers an area of 64 square kilometers.

Breede River near Worcester in South Africa’s Western Cape region is where the Greater Brandvlei Dam may be found.

Water from this dam reservoir is mostly used for agricultural and residential purposes.

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. The Heyshope Dam

Mpumalanga province’s biggest dam, the Heyshope Dam, is located in South Africa. Formed in 1986, the Assegaai River Dam uses a form of earth-fill material.

The South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry is in charge of all aspects of this dam’s operation.

According to its official website, the catchment area of Heyshope Dam is 1120 square kilometers and its height is 28.5 meters.

11. The Woodstock Dam

Province: KwaZulu-Natal

The capacity of 373.26 million cubic meters

Woodstock is one of the biggest dams in South Africa, located near Tugela in KwaZulu-Natal province.

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.

His height is 177 feet and his length is 865 feet.

12. Loskop Dam – South Africa

There’s a larger dam in Mpumalanga called Loskop Dam. At 49 meters high and 105 meters long, it’s an arch-gravity dam.

The Loskop Dam was built on the Olifants River in Mpumalanga province in 1939. Located adjacent to Groblersdal, a rural village, this dam is a popular destination for tourists.

The Loskop Dam Reserve is a popular tourist destination in the region.

The Loskop Dam can hold 361 million cubic meters of water and has a catchment area of 12,285 square kilometers.

A major function of the Loskop Dam is to provide water for agricultural purposes.

13. Grootdraai Dam

One of a kind because of its 360m long gravity section and another portion that forms the earth flank, the Vaal Dam is a one of a kind.

The Grootdraai Dam Reservoir was built in 1981 and is one of the largest dams in South Africa.

The Grootdraai is 42 meters high and 2180 meters long, with a total storage capacity of 350 million cubic meters of water.

14. De Hoop Dam

Limpopo Province’s De Hoop Dam is one of the country’s biggest.

It is a gravity dam built on the Steelpoort River near Burgersfort to facilitate the exploitation of mineral reserves in Limpopo province.

The length of the De Hoop Dam is 1,000 meters, and it stands at 81 meters high. The dam has a total storage capacity of 374.6 million cubic meters of water.

15. Kalkfontein Dam in South Africa

The Riet River Dam in Kalkfontein in the Free State of South Africa is where you’ll find this structure. Irrigation and other household reasons were the primary motivations for its construction in 1938.

The Department of Water Affairs wholly owns and manages the Kalkfontein Dam.

There is a 317-meter length to this dam and a 36-meter height to it. Water capacity is 258 million cubic meters and the surface area is 3,769 acres.

The Hellsgate dam in Uitenhage, South Africa, is the smallest dam in South Africa with a crest length of barely 4 meters.

16. Goedertrouw Dam

The KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa has a number of earth-filled dams, including this one. Goedertrouw Dam was built in 1980 on the Mhlathuze River.

After two years, the dam was built and ready for use. One of the major dams in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry’s caretakers is here.

88 meters high and 660 meters long, the Goedertrouw Dam has a 301 million cubic meter water capacity.

17. Albert Falls Dam – South Africa

The Albert Falls Dam is one of South Africa’s largest dams. The Umgeni River near Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, is where you’ll see this bird.

With a capacity of 290 million cubic meters, the Albert Falls Dam was built in 1976 and became operational in 1979.

The dam is 2000 meters in length and 33 meters in height.

The Albert Falls Dam serves primarily as water storage and irrigation system.

18. Brandvlei Dam

One of the greatest earth-fill dams in the Western Cape, South Africa, is this structure.

Founded in 1983, this dam was built by the South African Department of Water Affairs and is fully governed by the agency.

The Brandvlei dam has a total water capacity of 308 million cubic meters, making it one of South Africa’s largest dams.

19. Spioenkop Dam

Spioenkop Dam is one of South Africa’s major reservoirs. The Tugela River in KwaZulu-Natal province is impounded with a capacity of more than 272,000 cubic meters of water and an area of 15 square kilometers.

Without a doubt, this is one of the largest in the nation.

20. Mthatha Dam 

This is one of South Africa’s biggest Earth-Filled dams.

It is situated on the Mthatha River in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa.

In 1977, this dam was built primarily for municipal and industrial purposes.

21. Driekoppies Dam

The Komati River at Malelane, Mpumalanga, South Africa, is crossed by the Driekoppies Dam, a gravity/earth-fill dam. It was built in 1998 and has only ever served as an irrigation system.

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Conclusion

Aside from South Africa is a beautiful country it also has spectacular Dams to meet the demands of its populace. It’s not just to supply water alone but some are used for tourism as well. Your curiosity to know the biggest and largest dam in South Africa has been satisfied.

A dam is an artificial barrier constructed to stops or restrict 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 the biggest dams in South Africa is to retain water.