Using ‘life line’ water supply

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services

The story “ A way to beat drought” (Bulletin, May 04) refers.

In the event of an absolute worst-case scenario, should dams reach below 10 percent of the storage levels, the City will: implement “lifeline” water supply, which would involve minimal supply pressures, intermittent supply, and very stringent restrictions (should we reach a stage of “lifeline” supply, some areas in the city which experience very low pressures may be provided with water using water tankers); follow all legal, legislative and Council processes to expedite our medium-term infrastructure development plans; and install water management devices, for those who do not limit consumption even if they already pay.

But, it is unlikely that there will be no rain at all over the next three months and that the current extraction rate from the dams will remain constant. As the agricultural sector decreases its abstraction (as has been happening) and the weather starts to cool, the rate of decrease in the dam storage will slow down. Any early winter rain received will prolong water availability.

However, the water supply next summer is likely to remain stressed, particularly if we receive below- to average rainfall over the coming winter months.

We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will be intensifying water restrictions to meet the saving target required by the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

Our restrictions campaign target has been reduced to 600 million litres a day to ensure that we save water while it is available. Supply pressures will further also be dramatically reduced to lower consumption which could lead to intermittent supply in some areas. The bottom line is that we are in a water-scarce region and with climate change, we can prepare to become much more savvy with our water use otherwise we will simply not be able to be a sustainable

Cape Town was declared a local disaster area in terms of Section 55 of the Disaster Management Act on March 3 2017. The local declaration of a disaster is a City prerogative as provided by Section 55 of the Disaster Management Act (57 of 2002). Five other municipalities have already declared local disasters in the Western Cape province.

Extraordinary measures and arrangements for dealing with the crisis could now be introduced, for instance, the release of all available resources of the municipality to deal with the disaster and the reprioritisation of the budget. Money could be shifted between directorates to effect emergency repairs and/or procurement. Emergency procurement procedures could also be enacted which would entail, among others, shortening procurement processes. It also means that certain by-laws and emergency regulations could be enacted to deal with a disaster at hand.

On March 7 representatives from the City of Cape Town, the mayoral committee member, the national minister of water and sanitation and her department (who is the custodian of water resources), as well as the MEC for Local Government, met to plot a way forward regarding the drought crisis.

A collaborative approach on water-related matters was emphasised and agreed to. The minister has assured the City of her and her department’s full support during this time and moving forward.

Some of the outcomes include:

The establishment of a restrictions management committee to monitor the achievements of targets by all water users

The intensification of water demand and conservation management programmes by municipalities

The investigation into other water resources such as groundwater, grey water and rain water harvesting

The intensification of restrictions across all water-intensive agricultural activities

An early and urgent decision regarding the next augmentation project for the Western Water Supply System. It has been suggested that the Voelvlei Augmentation scheme be fast-tracked and if acceptable, to consider implementing this under emergency provisions.