Cape Town officially has less than 100 days before it runs out of water. The province’s average dam levels have dropped below 30% and it remains one of the worst drought hit provinces.
The City of Cape Town has six dams supplying its 3.7 million citizens. There are fears that the city’s taps could run dry before the rains come this winter. The dam cannot be completely emptied as it has to maintain at least 10% of its water.
The city remains a tourism hotspot throughout the year, however over peak periods it sees an influx of tourists which amount to more than 850,000 people a year.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille have said that the province is in a real crisis.
At the Women4Climate conference in New York earlier in March she told Bloomberg that “People will have to change the way they are doing things. You can only save water while you have water.”
The city has implemented severe precautions and strict water restrictions in an effort to drastically decrease daily usage and preserve water. Some of the methods included the introduction of level 3b water restrictions, fining offenders, and banning irrigation.
City should diversify its water supply
Kevin Winter, a lecturer and water expert at the University of Cape Town’s Environmental and Geographical Science Department said the city should have made an increased effort to diversify its water supply years ago.
He said that 98% of water coming from dams was “crazy”. “We use untreated, high quality water for everything we can think of,” he added.
The city is however preparing for the possibility of an extended drought.
MMC for water and waste services Xanthea Limberg said the city is continuing to plan for the implementation of contingency and emergency measures in conjunction with the national Department of Water and Sanitation.
At the beginning of the month de Lille declared the city a disaster area until the end of May, however this could be extended on a month-to-month basis.
Average water consumption in the city is now approximately 751 million litres week on week, however Limberg has indicated that the desired amount should be around 700 million litres a week.