Water use climbs again

Dam levels are at 42,5 %

Cape Town’s water usage nears 100 million litres over daily targets and the City is greatly concerned. 

The City is working via Council processes to implement more stringent Level 3 water restrictions. 

Despite the warning last week that water consumption was rising, the latest statistics on water consumption throughout Cape Town show another worrying spike. Collective consumption for the week ending 15 January 2017 is up to 890 million litres per day. This is up from 859 million litres per day the previous week, and is 90 million litres per day above targeted levels.

According to the City of Cape Town’s latest information, the dam levels are at 42,5 %.

The City is currently following due process to tighten and strengthen the existing Level 3 water restrictions.

This would be subject to Council approval. As an example, more stringent conditions on the use of potable water for watering gardens could be implemented. The City is also in the process of identifying properties with excessive water use. The City will target these customers for inspections and water usage enforcement.

‘If current consumption continues, the City expects that dam levels could be at a level of approximately 20% by the start of winter. This leaves a very low margin of safety as it is difficult to extract the last 10% of a dam’s volume. We do not expect to run out of water before the next rainy season but constant water usage above the target of 800 million litres per day of collective use, as has been the case, is not sustainable. We have the ability now to turn this situation around. And we will only be able to do this if water use is reduced and members of the public help us to do so.

‘Worryingly, there has been a lot of speculation lately seeking to attribute the missed targets to the influx of tourists, the recent spate of fires, or poor water habits in informal settlements.

Such speculation is dangerous in that many people could relax their savings efforts or use these kinds of excuses to dodge the responsibility they have to reduce their water usage. Any finger-pointing or buck-passing on this issue will not help us reach our target,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

While vigilance in terms of possible wastage needs to be encouraged, we must remember that formal residential consumers are by far biggest users of potable water in the municipality, consuming approximately 70% of total water supplied – half of which is used for less essential purposes such as watering gardens, washing cars and filling pools.

‘Water supplied to informal settlements, for firefighting, and to tourists does not come close to this figure. Bearing this in mind, our water security going forward will largely rest on whether or not residential customers can do what’s necessary to save water,’ said Councillor Limberg.

It is also crucial that those who waste water are held accountable, and key to this is residents reporting contraventions. Residents should report water wastage via email to water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za.

The City undertakes regular blitz operations and does proactive monitoring, however such is the scale of the task that unless residents play their part and assist with raising awareness, reporting contraventions and providing evidence of alleged contraventions, it will be limited in its efficacy.