Current status of the Cape Town water crisis
Category General News
The controversial decision to cut certain farms off from the water supply has left many asking questions about the long-term impact this will have on the food production and job security of the farm workers. Nonetheless, the agricultural sector has already used up its allocated quantity of water in the first month of 2018, leading to the decision to reduce the supply of municipal water to farmers.
This has already decreased the overall consumption of water from the six major dams that supply Cape Town, allowing the City of Cape Town to move Day Zero to 11 May. The consensus is that Capetonians can still reach the winter months if their consumption stays below 450 million litres per day.
To add to this, the Groenland Water Users Association began their generous donation of some 8 to 10 million cubic metres of water (or 10 billion litres) on Tuesday, 6 February 2018. This water will run from the Elgin/Grabouw region into the Upper Steenbras dam, where it will be fed into the Metro water treatment system. In total, the water will add another two week’s supply to the grid, so it is expected that Day Zero will be pushed as far back as June.
However, now that the farms are being throttled, the burden of saving water falls on the residents of Cape Town living in formal dwellings, who consume about 65% of the water. Only four percent of the total water consumption is attributed to informal settlements, where citizens have always been living under Day Zero conditions, queueing at taps to collect water.
City and state-owned entities, such as hospitals, clinics and schools have reduced their consumption in line with their targets.
What is the government doing now?
The Western Cape Government has decided to adopt a new communication strategy that will encourage more water saving. On the national level, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, has proposed that an unused desalination plant lying in Durban be transferred to Cape Town, where it will be installed at the V&A Waterfront at the expense of the City of Cape Town.
The Department of Water and Sanitation is still working on the extra pumping facilities at Voelvlei and Theewaterskloof dams, with both expected to come online in March. The City of Cape Town, in the meantime, is making progress with two temporary desalination plants which will start producing fresh water in March as well.
Public enforcement officers and police will be at water collection points to monitor queues and help citizens. The final list of these Points of Distribution (PoDs) is yet to be released. With the possibility of Day Zero being pushed into the winter months, the City will wait on the announcement of PoDs before committing to the expense of these installations.
Lastly, the drilling of boreholes into the Cape and Table Mountain Group aquifers is going well. The initial yield from the boreholes in the Cape Flats is more than expected.
To sum up
Although the unseasonal rains and the donation of water from the Grabouw farmers have provided some relief for Cape Town’s water situation, the need to save water is still as dire as before. This is still a disaster scenario and is not to be taken lightly. Keep spreading the word and encouraging your neighbours to save water.
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Author: Berman Brothers