Drought-hit Cape Town at ‘point of no return’, tightens water targets

Water limit reduced to 50 litres per person per day.
'Day Zero' - the day the taps run dry - is now expected on April 21. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town’s mayor told residents on Wednesday they would need to cut their daily water consumption by almost half from next month as authorities scramble to prevent the city running out of water as soon as April.

Struggling to cope with its worst drought in a century, Cape Town, South Africa’s second-largest city and a major tourist hub, last cut water consumption targets in October but its mayor said on Wednesday that too few residents were paying them any heed. From February 1, the target for water consumption per person would be lowered to 50 litres from 87 litres a day, and the collective consumption target to 450 million litres from 500 million litres a day, Mayor Patricia de Lille said.

According to an official, Cape Town as a whole consumed 618 million litres of water on Monday.

“We have reached a point of no return,” De Lille said in a statement. The new targets will remain in place for 150 days before the city reassesses the situation.

“Day Zero” – the day the taps run dry – is now expected on April 21, a day earlier than previously forecast, according to the statement.

Besides a huge public awareness campaign, teams have also intensified leak detection and repairs, as well as extending the use of treated effluent water which offset the use of drinking water for non-potable purposes, De Lille said.

She also said the city would be voting on a punitive tariff this Friday that will see “exponentially higher” water rates for residents who exceed their limits.

The city has also tried to limit water consumption by reducing the water pressure and stepping up the installation of water management devices in high-consumption households.

An average bath holds around 80 litres of water. 


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There are no good stories here. During my recent 2 week sojourn there not once was I told how much water I shld be using – other than on bill boards – no doubt organised by Mr Leon. No one I talked to seemed the least interested in this story – suggesting “Alles Sal region” in their best pseudo posh English accent. Taps should have already been turned off on a rotational basis so that people can do trial runs in accessing the water points & how they are going to lug 25kg (25lt) of water to their homes. Then there is the question of sewerage. Basically the DA didn’t want to upset their
electorate (esp those in fancy houses). I now see Clem Suttner is suggesting 2 million people need to be evacuated. As they say “there goes the neighbourhood”!

Welcome back Robert. We gather you must’ve been away…to the Mother City? You have a point…strangely as it seems, the water issue still needs to “hit home” for many(?) 🙁

I installed a roof/rainwater harvesting system/tank some 2 yrs ago with the 2016 drought in the old ‘Transvaal’. Plus have a ‘manual’ grey water use setup at home. All these measures, and we’re not in the Cape.

I pray for Noah’s flood for CT…

A good long-term investment for any WC home or business, is a AWG-system (Atmospheric Water Generator). Unless I’m mistaken, there have been numerous overcast days the past few winter/spring months in 2017 (with damp air from ocean) but no/little rain falling, where such systems could extract moisture from air & purify it to potable water.

Accepted, AWG will be seriously heavy on electricity consumption (…like any large aircon), but think of it this way: it’s better than wasting electricity on Bitcoin mining (which is nothing more than computer game / online gambling)….but at least AWG produces something TANGIBLE & life sustaining!! It’s like an insurance policy.

Bitcoin cannot convert to water. (…unless if you want to play a game and drink “virtual water”).

Heaven forbid, IF Cape runs dry, best to have all building aircons’s switched on, and place buckets outside to catch dripping evaporation. (yes, I see people laughing at me now…but all jokes will be cast aside when the chips are down).

The DA have been napping under de Lille as this ‘problem’ has been coming for many years but they only decided to start with supplementary drilling etc. recently.
De Lille is less than useless in my opinion.

I know many people who work in the Cape city council and De Lille is very much despised by most of them for her lack of people and management skills. (Politicans aren’t exactly known for brains and skills)

That said, I wont be voting for the DA in the next Cape election. Simply because they have shown to be disastrous in this crisis which the general public has been aware of for at least TWO YEARS and for which, when they finally woke up to the facts last year, they claimed that there would be no water problems because they have superb contingency plans in place.

Meanwhile, there have been several companies coming forward with workable options. One being a South African company that could have started building desalination plants mid last year to be done now but they were turned down for the council to wait for offers from overseas providers.

Even until November we were told by DA representatives that everything was fine. No suddenly come January we are told that the crisis in unavoidable and everyone will have to queue with buckets.

That is basically the DA just saying that they are hopeless at practically delivering a solution to this and that all the BS that they were spinning has come home to roost and they have been exposed.

All they have done is tell the public to use less and less and less and less. There has been virtually no practical sustainable solution to this from the DA and it is now too late for them to try and implement one.

The DA is just another BS political party and they have just proven it!


If one positive thing can be taken from this whole debacle its that the general attitude of taking water for granted will now hopefully change. I sincerely hope that people realise that this is now the new normal. And it’s not just Cape Town. Durban’s dams, for example, are only 46% full. Water is the new gold and needs to be treated as such. One of Ramaphosa’s most urgent tasks is to fix the broken water infrastructure and appoint a task team to figure out how we can make our limited water go further. There’s no time to be lost.

End of comments.



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