Cape Town could be beset by water restrictions as a result of a drop in the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS), with some of the provinces main water sources deemed far lower than average. Low rainfall means that at least six dams across the region currently sit at 74% capacity, which marks a 20-year low for the province.
While the statistics don’t signify a water supply crisis, City of Cape Town Mayco member for utility services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg says the City and the National Department of Water and Sanitation will have to make decision in November on whether to implement the restrictions.
“We don’t want to come in November and tell the public that we are going to do water restrictions, because there is something we can do to conserve water and make sure that we avoid the restrictions. That is what we are trying to alert the public to,” he stated.
To address water shortages, the City has in recent years done major pipe replacements, run a water leak programme to fix leaks both on public and private property, and implemented a pressure management initiative as well.
“We reduce the pressure in the evenings so that if there is a pipe burst or a leak, less water would leak away. These are just some of a number of programmes we have run,” he explained.
From the public’s side, the City of Cape Town has urged citizens to not water their garden, field or any grass area between 10am-4pm. In addition communities are urged not to water down any hard surfaces or vehicles, take showers instead of baths, and any other measures that would bring down water usage. Sonnenberg says the City are hopeful that such actions could bring down water demand by nearly 10%.
“I’m not saying that it would be enough, but clearly it could mean that the decision could just go to the side of not introducing water restrictions,” he noted.
While the region’s water supply comes almost solely from existing dams; only 2% being drawn from boreholes, continued increases in demand is likely to force the City to seek out alternate forms water supply.
“We are going to have to look at water desalination which is costly, and would have to be the last option we would introduce. Also we are looking at further boreholes, well points and drain-water harvesting. There are a number of options we are looking at over and above the damns,” he added. VOC