Suck it up‚ Cape Town: De Lille says new water target is 500 million litres a day

31 May 2017 - 12:14 By Dave Chambers
Theewaterskloof Dam during a severe drought in the Western Cape. File photo.
Theewaterskloof Dam during a severe drought in the Western Cape. File photo.
Image: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

First it was 800 million litres a day. As dam levels declined it became 700 million‚ then 600 million. And on Wednesday‚ Cape Town was told to cut its water use to 500 million litres a day.

Announcing “a new and heightened response to the drought” at a city council meeting‚ mayor Patricia de Lille said: “It might be very hard and very difficult now but the risk of running out of water is even more disastrous.”

De Lille announced two new “water resilience” bodies — a task team and an advisory committee — and asked the council to pre-approve further restrictions on water use that could be implemented in the next two months if necessary.

“We cannot be sure whether it will rain this winter‚” she said. “We have gone through May with nothing much to show with regard to rainfall. June might be better‚ but the point is we do not know.”

Water consumption last week was 666 million litres per day‚ the lowest achieved so far‚ but it did not stop dam levels declining by 0.8 percentage points to 19.7% when measurements were taken on Monday.

“The drought we are currently experiencing is the most stubborn in recent history. It is a significant shock to the fabric our city and accentuates many other underlying stresses such as urbanisation‚” De Lille told councillors.

“We need to embrace the fact that water scarcity is the new normal and all our future planning must accept that we are living in a drought-stricken area.

“It is about building resilience‚ which is the capacity of individuals‚ communities‚ institutions‚ businesses and systems to survive‚ adapt and grow no matter what kind of stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

In addition to drawing water from the Table Mountain Group and Cape Flats aquifers‚ and desalination at Koeberg nuclear power plant‚ “we will work tirelessly to bring online even more modular desalination and water reuse options”‚ said De Lille.

“Emergency procurement mechanisms will be used to source more water. All procurement will be done speedily and within the confines the law.

“We will do everything possible to ensure that no matter the state of rainfall over the coming months and indeed over the next year‚ we must have enough water available to not drop below 500 million litres a day.”