De Lille squeezes water use even harder with Level 5 restrictions

03 September 2017 - 13:15
By Dave Chambers
Theewaterskloof Dam during a severe drought in the Western Cape. File photo.
Image: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp Theewaterskloof Dam during a severe drought in the Western Cape. File photo.

Cape Town’s water restrictions just got even tougher.

With immediate effect‚ commercial customers have been ordered to cut their water use by 20% compared with a year ago.

Residential customers have been ordered to cap consumption at 20 kilolitres a month or face “a very high fine”. Mayor Patricia de Lille said on Sunday the level of fines had not yet been set but were likely to be between R5‚000 and R10‚000.

“The usage in the month of September will determine what actions delinquent users will be subject to thereafter‚” said De Lille.

This could include having a water management device fitted‚ limiting a household’s use to 350 litres a day. The city council has taken delivery of 20‚000 water management devices‚ and started fitting them at the homes of the most flagrant guzzlers three weeks ago.

Further reductions in water pressure will also begin immediately. Said De Lille: “[We] have made considerable strides with regard to lowering water pressure over the last three months‚ which has contributed to reducing overall consumption of municipal water.”

The new reductions were likely to cause interruptions in the supply in higher-lying areas for short periods during the day. “Multi-storey buildings that do not make use of pumps and overhead tanks as required by the city’s building regulations are likely to experience supply problems‚” said De Lille.

“Residents are advised to keep an emergency store of 2-5 litres of water for drinking and basic hygiene at all times.”

With dam levels at 34.2% (compared to 60% a year ago) and the winter rainy season almost over‚ the city council wants consumption limited to 500 million litres a day. But the most recent figures show it is 20% above that. De Lille said commercial properties were bottom of the class when it came to saving.

“Over the last year‚ all categories of water users have shown a trend of decreased consumption other than the commercial property category. This category includes offices and small business operations. It excludes industrial properties.

“The managers of commercial properties must with immediate effect ensure that their monthly consumption of the municipal supply of water is reduced by 20% compared with a year ago.”

She did not say what sanctions could be imposed but said “historical usage of individual commercial properties and their efforts to install improved water management technologies will be taken into account when considering any enforcement measures”.

On Friday‚ the city council issued a tender for temporary desalination plants at Monwabisi and Strandfontein. Similar plants elsewhere‚ with extraction of groundwater and water recycling‚ are intended to supply 500 million litres a day.