Water Crisis briefing by Mayor Patricia de Lille

Water Crisis - save more water!

City committed to working with businesses and residents to manage water crisis effectively. 

 
Extract of speech delivered by Mayor Patricia de Lille at the briefing to the business sector on the water crisis hosted at the GreenCape offices. 
 
The water crisis impacts on our everyday lives and it has a huge impact on your operations and in turn the economy. 
 
I would like to start by thanking the businesses here tonight for working with the City to use water more sparingly.
 
Our collective saving efforts along with the residents has stretched our water resources so far but we are heading for trying times as we are already in May and we have yet to see the spells of continual rain which we are accustomed to at this time of the year.
 
But climate change means there is no more normal – we have seen that the rains will not come as it used to with our lowest rainfall on record in 100 years over the past two winters. 
 
We simply have to do more on an ongoing basis to address climate change and preserve our water resources while also looking at alternative means of sourcing drinking water.
 
One of the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) priorities is to enhance resource-efficiency and security. 
 
Moving towards becoming a water sensitive city means managing all urban water (stormwater, groundwater, rivers and treated wastewater effluent) in an integrated way, with the ultimate aim of being able to use these as sources of drinking water.  
 
During this time of drought, we have the opportunity to fundamentally improve resource efficiencies in our local economy, whether it is water, energy, waste or biodiversity. 
 
Earlier this year, I engaged with some businesses on their water use to appeal to them to work with us to save more water. 
 
The response was overwhelming with many businesses displaying a positive attitude to working with the City and for that I thank them.
 
We have been engaging with some of the top water consumers and we have seen that leaks on private property are a major cause of avoidable high consumption. 
 
In our own operations, we have reduced water losses to under 15 %. We will reduce this even further to between 10 % and 5 %.
 
We are committed to reducing these losses substantially over the medium-term in line with our water conservation efforts which have been recognised internationally. 
 
We have also made an additional R22 million available for our first line response teams who are sent out to attend to water faults reported to our call centre.
 
Approximately 75 additional staff members have been employed to improve our response time to water complaints.
 
These teams are able to identify the problem, do some repairs and/or isolate the leak and call in the appropriate level of response to do major repairs. 
 
The additional staff members are also deployed to deal with the water management device complaints and faults. 
 
We are now also calling on residents and businesses to stop using municipal water for all outside use such as watering gardens or filing up pools and that those who are able to do so invest in greywater and rainwater harvesting, among others, for all non-potable uses. 
 
Similarly, the City is also looking at ways to create a greater culture of water harvesting in all of our operations. 
 
The City continues to accelerate its emergency water schemes in accordance with the disaster declaration. This includes:
 
Emergency drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer, with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
A small-scale desalination package plant, located along Cape Town’s north-western coastline, with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
Intensifying the City’s Pressure Management and Water Demand Management Programmes to further reduce water demand
 
In the event that there is another winter of below average rainfall, the City will be expanding and accelerating the abovementioned emergency schemes even further. 
 
The capital costs of the emergency schemes are currently estimated at R315 million over three financial years (2016/’17 to 2018/’19). 
 
The exploratory phase of a pilot project for the extraction of water from the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) is expected to commence by the end of June 2017. 
 
At this stage the foreseen yield is approximately two million litres per day. This is because we are taking a precautionary approach to determine the sustainable yield of the TMGA and to prevent over-abstraction and environmental damage.
 
The City is also continuing with extensive pressure reduction programmes to reduce the flow of water and water losses through leakage in the pipework of the distribution system. 
 
The regulation of supply is under way in the central, southern and eastern suburbs and within the next week it will be expanded to the northern suburbs. 
 
Stricter water restrictions, moving to level 4 could also be on the cards soon, subject to due process and approval by Council. 
 
We are in an unprecedented drought and this is going to become a long-term issue which requires us to act now and to act quickly. 
 
In closing, from our side, we are doing our best and we are committed to working with you all to do even more to manage water demand.