#WaterCrisis: Cape Town in for a long, dry summer


Dripping water - [] Dripping water - []

The springs on Table Mountain yield too little water, and the cost of treating this to drinking standards does not justify the expense.

That’s according to Mayco member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg, who told Weekend Argus that in order to achieve regulatory compliance, filtration and disinfection, barriers would be required to protect community health, as would a pressure feed into the adjacent network and additional staff to control the treatment process.

Limberg said the potential yield from these springs represents only a fraction of the City’s requirements during the current water crisis, and is in no way the solution to the drought.

Limberg said Capetonians saving as much as possible remains key in efforts to avoid Day Zero which has now been pushed back to May 2018 and the City is on track with augmentation plans to procure more water.

Desalination plants at Monwabisi, Strandfontein, the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town Harbour; together with the Atlantis and Cape Flats Aquifer and the Zandvliet water recycling project, are expected to collectively produce an additional 196 million litres of water per day between February 2018 and July 2018.

Limberg said the City also has 12 projects in the advanced stages of planning that are ready to proceed if required. “We have recently increased yields from the Atlantis Aquifer by an additional five million litres of water per day, and earlier this month we started pumping the first drinking water, an additional two million litres from the springs and the Molteno Reservoir in Oranjezicht.

“We are calling on all residents to do what they can to spread awareness and hold each other accountable for waste and excessive use. We can only avoid Day Zero if each person uses 87 litres of water or less per person per day.”

The City is confident the local outflow of residents from the province over the festive season and the closure of schools and some industries like the construction industry, will balance the influx of local and foreign tourism visiting the city.

“We are working with Cape Town Tourism, Fedhasa and other key partners to ensure our Save Like A Local campaign, directed at tourists, is spread far and wide,” she said.

Currently, the City treats approximately 2.8 million litres of water per day from the Albion Spring in Newlands and has recently commissioned a new project to produce approximately 2 million litres per day from the Oranjezicht Main Springs Chamber. “This water is pressure-fed directly into our reticulation system and distributed to the taps of residents,” she said. The City also has a plan should it become necessary to introduce water rationing.

Level 5 water restrictions will be in place throughout the holiday period and Limberg warned that “we are in for a long, dry summer”.

She said should we reach the impending Day Zero - if the dams reach the 13.5% mark, the City will switch off almost all taps and most residents will have to queue for water. Some key areas like densely populated informal settlements will be prioritised to stay connected.

Decisions about which areas will have access to water will be based on factors such as critical infrastructure, population density, and risk profile for disease outbreak and fires.

At this stage, water outages are likely to be experienced at peak times. This happens when people tend to do laundry in the mornings or shower at more or less the same time during the day.

“This peak (typically between 5am and 9am and and between 5pm and 9pm) will draw down the system creating a temporary outage,” said Limberg.

On Wednesday, Limberg met with the City’s plumbers to get them on board with plans for homes to be made future-proof and to assist with the installation of water-saving technology.

Henno Brandt, a plumber at Pinpoint Leaks who attended the meeting, said he was encouraged by domestic and commercial clients to make their premises future-proof. Brandt, who has been a plumber for 20 years, showed Weekend Argus a video and pictures from November 2016 of the Theewaterskloof dam.

In the video, the dam was about half full; it’s current level stands at 23.4%.

Mayor Patricia de Lille recently suggested a special water tax for residents, over and above their normal water bills, to fill the city council’s coffers.

She said the City was investigating the possibility of charging a special levy because consumers were saving water so well that they were now paying less, which was in turn affecting the City’s budget.

Limberg told Weekend Argus that any type of water tax would first have to go through the council, which will meet next Tuesday.

The first rains for the new year are expected in March 2018.





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