On Thursday the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee requested that council implement more severe water restrictions at its sitting next week.
The mayoral committee proposed a plan to upgrade the current Level 3 water restrictions to Level 3B because of diminishing dam levels and unnecessary residential water usage.
Mayoral committee member councillor Xanthea Limberg said that although many residents have been prime examples of water ambassadors, the city has not met its water usage target because of less conscientious residents.
“We will continue to take action against these culprits and will target the city’s top 20 000 high water users – the majority of whom reside in formal areas of the metro.”
In the meantime, water restrictions may become stricter.
If Level 3B water restrictions are implemented, residents will only be allowed to water their gardens on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 09:00 or after 18:00 with a bucket or watering can.
This is grim compared to the current Level 3 water restrictions which do not limit residents to watering their gardens during certain times.
Residents will also have to wait for 48 hours before they water their gardens after rainfall, as opposed to the current 24 hours, and they won’t be allowed to wash their boats or vehicles at all, even with a bucket or watering can.
If council approves this suggestion, it will be implemented from February 1, 2017.
Level two water restrictions will be implemented in Cape Town from New Year’s Day as the Western Cape has had a disappointing rainfall season and dams are on average emptier than last year.
Authorities say the restrictions will save about 20% of the city’s daily water usage. People who use alternative resources will also have to adhere to the restrictions.
Water restrictions are already in force in most parts of the country as the worst drought in decades tightens its grip.
Cape Town’s decision comes on the back of Durban’s eThekwini metro issuing a warning for stringent water use. It says domestic, commercial and industrial water consumption is to be reduced by 50% in areas north of the city and by 15% in the Central Business District.
The worst drought in decades tightens its grip on SA
The metro has banned irrigation and urged consumers to implement water saving measures. KwaZulu-Natal was last month declared a disaster zone due to the ongoing drought.
Many municipalities are forced to implement water restrictions, with the Midmar Dam at its lowest level in 65 years.
Meanwhile, in the northern Free State, nearly 800 small scale farmers who’ve been affected by the drought have been given booster packs to assist them feed their livestock.
Agriculture MEC Oupa Khoabane visited Parys and Sasolburg to hand over 780 parcels of fodder, drinking water and medication. He said government is committed to providing some relief to those affected.
Cape Town – Water restrictions may be in the pipeline after the City of Cape Town recorded a lower than average rainfall, the municipality said on Wednesday.
It said the six major dams which supply Cape Town and the surrounding region were at about 74% full.
While this was not “critically low”, it was lower than the average over the last 20 years.
The City said in a statement that it would meet with national government to discuss possible restrictions.
The City, as well as other stakeholders, would meet with the National Department of Water and Sanitation to decide if restrictions would be required during summer.
Restrictions are implemented to conserve water resources during periods of drought in order to ensure ongoing supply to users.
“Because Cape Town is situated in a water-scarce, semi-arid region, it is important that we all do our bit to conserve our most precious resource and avoid unnecessary water restrictions and measures,” said mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg.
Bloemfontein is getting water restrictions for the first time in 32 years.
The Mangaung metro council decided during a special meeting on Friday afternoon to implement the restrictions.
A 20% price increase for water will be part of the deal. Despite a debate on technical issues, the DA and ANC both supported restrictions.
“The metro’s water situation is bleak. Sixty-nine percent of Bloemfontein’s water comes from the Welbedag dam, which provides water to the Bloem Water resevoir. That dam has 26% less water than last year,” Democratic Alliance councillor Rossouw Botes said.
“Mangaung uses 200 million litres of water a day. The water in the dams that provide water to the metro, will never last until October, when we can expect the first spring rains.
“Thaba ‘Nchu is already dry and other areas are on a knife’s edge. The Groothoek dam, which provides water to Thaba ‘Nchu, is completely dry. There are 25 boreholes in Thaba ‘Nchu. Of these, 7 are dry and the others are overstressed.”
The city last had water restrictions in 1983.
Durban – South Africans use 235 litres of water each a day compared to the international average of 173 litres – which is pushing the country into a water crisis that will, within a decade, rival the electricity catastrophe.
This is coupled with ageing infrastructure and a backlog of water delivery to communities because not enough money is being pumped into infrastructure.
This is the picture painted by the Institute of Security Studies in a report called “Parched Prospects: The emerging water crisis in South Africa” which was released last year.
The ISS focuses on all aspects of human security including poverty, development and resources.
The report said high use, coupled with waste, poor planning, abuse, and looming climate change, was creating the predicament.
In an interview Dr Jakkie Cilliers, a co-author of the report, told The Mercury that 60% of the 223 river ecosystems were threatened and 25% were critical.
“If we don’t start dealing with the water problem, we are going to get into a situation where the margins are going to get really tight and water restrictions will be severe.”
Cilliers said water management needed to be made a priority as there was insufficient capacity to build enough dams.
“Low and unpredictable supply coupled with high (and growing) demand and poor use of existing water resources make South Africa a water constrained country.”
With evaporation levels that are three times more that the low annual rainfall, South Africa is already the 30th driest country in the world.
He was doubtful about the policy interventions proposed in the latest National Water Resource Strategy. These included improving planning and management and increasing supply to meet growing demand.
“Unfortunately the government’s current plans to address our water inefficiency are not sufficient. There’s strong evidence of years of underinvestment in water infrastructure. As a result there is a backlog of communities who don’t have access to clean water coupled with the issue of ageing infrastructure,” said Cilliers.
Environmentalist Di Jones said the target for all South Africans to have access to clean water by 2030 would only be realised if water management was made a priority.
“I’m not against desalination and building of new dams, but I think we should first look at less costly measures to stretch the litres that we already have, and consumers must start saving water in their homes.”
Jones said upgrading the ageing infrastructure had to be a priority as it crippled the economy with millions of litres lost through leaks.
“Our dams need to be desludged to maximise capacity… Hazelmere Dam is said to be 37% full, but that’s not true because about 15% is sludge,” said Jones.
She suggested that industries and agriculture start using grey water instead of potable water.
A decline in demand is expected after 2035, but only in industry, thanks to the onset of renewable energy production which does not require water for cooling.
The municipal and agricultural sectors would increase demand because of rural-urban migration and the government’s plan to increase irrigated land by 33%.
To mitigate the strain on water systems, Umgeni Water has budgeted R5 billion for the next five years for six augmentation projects including raising Hazelmere Dam’s wall.
Also under construction is the R2bn Lower Thukela Bulk Water Supply Scheme.
“We are also looking into desalination, and feasibility studies have been conducted for two sites, in Lovu and Seatides (Tongaat),” said Umgeni’s Shami Harichunder.
Cilliers said desalination was costly at first and probably less viable because of the energy crisis. However, it would be beneficial to coastal areas and less expensive with new technology in renewable energy in the future.
Angela Masefield of the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation conceded that some river systems were under strain.
“We are constantly monitoring demand to ensure that we can give citizens, industries and agriculture assurances that they will have water in the future.”
Besides climate change, Masefield’s other concern was the high level of non-revenue water lost through leaks, waste and theft.
In 2013 the WRC released a report on a study, conducted on 132 municipalities, which said about 36.8% of water use brought in no revenue. Of this, 25.4% was lost to leaks. This was similar to the estimated world average of 36.6% but was high in comparison to other developing countries.
“We sometimes find that even those who can afford to pay for water choose not to pay and then there are those who are ‘luxurious’ with water, resulting in the household usage being higher than it should be. This, coupled with illegal connections, results in the system being unstable,” said Masefield.
Source: IOL News