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What to know about dam levels and building a water-secure future

Recent heavy rains saw Cape Town’s dam levels increase drastically and currently stands at 97,1%. This is about a 30 percentage point increase since the start of June. Last year this time, dam levels were 72,6%. With dams filling up, residents might have questions about the medium to long term implications.

 Rainfall data recorded since the beginning of June at dams that supply the city, shows rainfall to be well in excess of long-term averages for this time of year.

Also it is likely to be one of the wettest Junes in the last 70 years at Wemmershoek.

‘While we appreciate the heavy rain that has been filling our dams, we cannot allow this to give us a false sense of water security for the future. This is because we need more than just dams to ensure our water supply is resilient for years to come as clearly highlighted by our customers during the drought, to help navigate future climate shocks. For this reason, the City is making every effort to ensure that its plans to bring an extra daily 300 million litres of water online by 2030 progresses.

‘Our water resilience is important for our residents and for economic growth in Cape Town. We want to thank our residents for contributing to building our water-future be it from paying their water bills to making water wise decisions in their daily lives,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

Please see below for Frequently Asked Questions and Answers with Councillor Zahid Badroodien:

  1. What does my water tariff cover?

Currently residents pay on average between 5c – 8c a litre for Cape Town tap water.

The water tariff is made up of both a usage (or variable) charge, which depends on how much water is used, and a fixed basic charge.

This tariff is used to recover the cost for supplying a reliable water service. This includes the operational cost associated with the establishment of major infrastructure catchment and treatment of water, operation of the distribution systems as well as repairs and maintenance of infrastructure such as:

  • 11 319km of water pipes
  • 12 water treatment plants
  • 180 reservoirs
  • More than 9 266km of sewer pipes
  • 490 wastewater pump stations
  • 92 water pump stations
  • 23 Wastewater Treatment Works
  • 296km of treated effluent pipes and 11 treated effluent pump stations and more!

These costs remain largely the same regardless of the dam levels and the volumetric usage and therefore, the tariffs are set to recover the cost of providing the service.

  1. Cape Town’s dams are more than 90% full. Why do we still need to pay a fixed basic charge as part of our water tariff?

The fixed basic charge is part of the total water tariff structure that needs to recover the cost of supplying a reliable water service.

It is needed so the City can continue to pay for and provide reliable water services to Cape Town. Should the fixed basic charge be removed, it will lead to a significant deficit and the standard usage part of the tariff will need to be substantially increased.

The fixed basic charge creates stability and reliability in the Water and Sanitation Directorate’s revenue forecast which is used to fund the directorates operating expenditure and the operational cost associated with the Capital Expenditure Programme. This includes projects such as the New Water Programme (NWP), the Water Pipe Replacement Programme and other projects that will help build a resilient service.


  • The fixed basic charge remains in place. This charge is not a penalty or a surcharge.
  • Indigent registered households do not pay the fixed basic charge part of the water tariff, and continue to receive an allocation of free water and sanitation.
  1. Can we expect to pay a lower water tariff now that Cape Town’s dams are more than 90% full?

No. The lowest (no restriction) tariff has already been in effect from 1 November 2020.

The cost of providing the water service remains largely the same regardless of how much or how little water flows through the system and water residents use, or is in our dams.

  1. Is the City charging residents a ‘drought levy’?

No, the City is not charging a ‘drought levy’. A ‘drought levy’ was never approved.

  1. What is the City doing to ensure that we have water in future?  

Due to climate change, Cape Town has learnt that we cannot solely rely on dams for water security in future so the City is investing in its New Water Programme (NWP), which includes projects such as desalination, groundwater schemes and reuse. This is part of the City’s long-term Water Strategy to help reduce Cape Town’s dependence on rainfall and dam storage as our primary water supply to navigate future climate shocks and droughts.

We are working towards increasing supply by an extra 300 million litres of new water everyday by 2030. Each of the projects are at different stages of development. This is over and above the current interventions to ensure optimal water use and will assist in enabling Cape Town to become resilient to climate change. See:

While the City is investing in the NWP, residents are reminded to be water-wise at all times, regardless of the season or the status of our dams.

More information:

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