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Maimane joins the 'don't panic' chorus in Cape Town

30 January 2018 - 08:46 By Claire Keeton
Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane.
Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) Mmusi Maimane.

Don’t panic about water‚ DA leader Mmusi Maimane urged Capetonians on Tuesday‚ adding: “I really think we can defeat Day Zero.”

Speaking on CapeTalk‚ Maimane reiterated the message politicians have started broadcasting as rising panic sets in about taps running dry.

Shops have sold out of items such as bottled water‚ chemical toilets and camping showers as Capetonians stock up ahead of Day Zero — forecast to be on April 12.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane told a briefing in Cape Town on Sunday that the water crisis was under control‚ and department spokesman Sputnik Ratau said on CapeTalk they were not planning on the taps running dry.

“The reality is that drought that has been debilitating for the country of South Africa ... therefore there was no way the Western Cape would be safe‚” he said.

“The first thing that needs to happen ... is water restrictions‚ and we have revised them twice upwards to look at domestic consumption being at 45% and agriculture at 60% and the idea is to encourage everybody to draw down consumption patterns.”

The City of Cape Town had advised the department it was looking at “optimising groundwater” to augment water supplies‚ which is why it had not prioritised desalination‚ he said.

“We have to do that [draw water from aquifers] very cautiously because that groundwater also depends on the rain to recharge‚ so it is very critical that we do not use boreholes willy-nilly‚” Ratau said.

Groundwater‚ from which boreholes draw‚ was a national asset and citizens should not be wasting it on watering gardens or other non-essential use‚ he said.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith told a briefing on Sunday “It is not necessary to stockpile water‚ water will be readily available. At this stage‚ every bit of stockpiling brings us closer to a Day Zero scenario.

“Residents who are stockpiling are inadvertently driving a Day Zero outcome. If we are frugal you will be able to collect water from your taps throughout this year and next year.”