CAPE TOWN – The national Department of Water and Sanitation has expressed concern over the seriousness and urgency with which the City of Cape Town is addressing the water crisis.
If much-needed rainfall doesn’t come before the end of winter, serious interventions are called for.
The regional head of water and sanitation, Rashid Khan, called for a more serious intervention by the City.
“Cape Town needs a more serious intervention with water. Even though it has done well with water restrictions, we must look at the recycling of water. This includes underground water. But we also need to make sure we consume less water so we will be able to stretch it further.
“We have lower levels of water in dams as well. The rainfall which we have had is not filling up our dams and is why we have to look at alternate sources of water. With a high temperature rain water is evaporating faster.”
Environmental expert Dr Nicholas King said the days of swimming pools and large lawns are gone.
“Investment needs to go into desalination and extracting ground water. Humans cannot live without water and we will have to start looking at trucking-in water from other areas.”
Cape Town’s collective water usage target under Level 4b restrictions remains at 500 million litres a day – a mark residents are still a long way off from meeting.
Local government MEC Anton Bredell said the ongoing drought remained a major concern.
“We did not get the rain we were expecting in June. In July we received an average amount of rain for the period. What we needed this season was above average rainfall. This has not been the case.
“While we have August lying ahead with the promise of some relief, its quite clear that dam levels are going to struggle to recover. Major dams in the province remain very low. Theewaterskloof is currently at 21.2% (in 2016 it was 43%), Voëlvlei Dam is at 22.1% (2016 it was 45%) and the Clanwilliam Dam is 27.2%. Last year it was 99.8% full.
“Further stringent water restrictions for the entire province are being considered at the moment. On the demand side, usage must be managed downwards even further whilst on the supply side we are working furiously on possible solutions that include groundwater extraction and desalination.
“As always a major constraint remains budget. We continue to engage all relevant stakeholders in this regard, including the national department of water and sanitation,” Bredell said.
PHOTO: EMPTY: Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp. The City of Cape Town is appealing to residents not to relax their water-saving efforts. Picture: Henk Kruger