Cape Town faces earlier ‘day zero’ for drought-hit water supply – April 22

By John Viljoen

(Bloomberg) — Cape Town has brought forward by one week to April 22 its estimate for “Day Zero,” when the drought-stricken South African city will cut off water supplies unless residents reduce consumption and additional sources come online.

Water sits in the Molteno reservoir as Table mountain stands beyond in Cape Town, South Africa. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

That’s the projected “day the taps will be turned off,” the City of Cape Town said on its website Tuesday. Dams supplying the city with water are at 29.7 percent of capacity, down from 31 percent a week earlier. Fifty four percent of Cape Town residents are using the targeted 87 liters (23 gallons) or less each a day, compared with 34 percent a week earlier.

City secures bigger yield from aquifers but consumption still too high as Cape Town moves closer to Day Zero

Statement by the City’s Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille

09 January 2018

Today I can announce that the recent groundwater survey has confirmed that the aquifers around Cape Town will deliver more water than expected.

City of Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille

At least 150 million litres of water per day will be delivered by the Cape Flats, Table Mountain Group and Atlantis aquifers.

These are the preliminary findings:

  • The Cape Flats aquifer will deliver 80 million litres per day
  • The Table Mountain Group aquifer will deliver 40 million litres per day
  • The Atlantis aquifer will deliver 30 million litres per day

Prime locations were identified to abstract more water from these three aquifers. Drilling rigs will be moved onto sites from this week in the Cape Flats aquifer zone.

Importantly, this action to help Cape Town get through the drought is based on an environmentally sensitive approach that will ensure sustainable water abstraction, ensuring generations of Capetonians will benefit from this groundwater supply.

This is the first time such an extensive mapping has been done and will ensure responsible use of groundwater through, for instance, the water recharge of these aquifers.

The projects form part of the City’s programme to supply additional water from desalination, water recycling and groundwater abstraction.

A resident fills a plastic kettle with water from a communal tap in the Imizamo Yethu township outside Cape Town. Cape Town has tightened water usage restrictions, banning the use of potable water to irrigate gardens, wash cars or top up swimming pools, as it confronts its worst drought on record and a delay to the onset of the winter rainy season. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

On the back of these encouraging findings, I’d like to emphasise that, over the past month especially, the City has been reviewing our initial programme to make additional water available. It has been an intense effort to find ways to revise our plan to make bigger volumes of water available at a lower cost for the benefit of all of our residents.

A key change has been the greater emphasis on additional water from groundwater sources. We will therefore invest more money in groundwater abstraction.

This phase of the plan therefore focuses strongly on the aquifer projects, the desalination plants at Monwabisi, Strandfontein and the V&A Waterfront which are all on track and under way.

We need to raise money to pay for these projects and, more importantly, to maintain our water reticulation system. To do this, we have proposed the drought charge and invited public comment. We’ve received some 45 000 comments to date.

We have listened to our residents and have decided to extend the comment period to midnight on Monday 15 January 2018.

I want to take this opportunity to explain to Capetonians how we are proposing to fund these initial projects and our water services. It really is vital in our efforts to beat the drought and to afford protection to our most vulnerable residents.

Only 464 216 households out of a total of 707 814 households will be affected by the charge.

Of these, only 52 510 will pay more than R150 per month. The rest will pay less than this. The majority will pay less than R47 per month.

We remain committed to lessening the burden on our most vulnerable residents while at the same time ensuring that every Capetonian receives basic services.

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