Cape Town looks high and low for H2O
CAPE Town has reduced its water consumption to levels last seen in 2000, but it is still not enough.
The city’s four million residents — about 1.3 million more than at the turn of the millennium — were asked this week not to consume more than 500 million litres a day as dam levels sank to 19.7%.
That equates to 125 litres a day each, although mayor Patricia de Lille said individuals should aim for a 100-litre limit.
All eyes are on the first storm of winter predicted for Wednesday, when forecasts predict up to 80mm of rain accompanied by gusts of around 90km/h.
Another glimmer of hope springs from under Table Mountain. Mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg said the city council was preparing a licence application to make further use of springs and streams.
“In most cases springs have not been considered to supplement drinking water supply because the expense of enabling the city to treat this water would not justify the small yield,” said Limberg.
“Use of the water for other purposes, such as irrigation or industrial processes, would be more cost-effective and simpler to achieve, and would also take some pressure off the city’s potable water reserves. The city is now engaging with the Department of Water and Sanitation and other stakeholders and preparing a licence application for further use of the springs.”
Limberg said as well as 2.8 million litres a day from the Albion spring in Newlands, the Oranjezicht spring supplied water to irrigate the Cape Town Stadium precinct and Company’s Garden.
“We are also looking into whether a treated effluent plant is feasible for the Green Point area that could service the irrigation needs of the stadium precinct. If this goes through, the spring water could be repurposed and treated to drinking water standards.”
Another plan to bring relief involves tapping the ocean. “The city is exploring rental of offshore modular desalination units, as well as other interventions, that altogether could yield as much as 500 million litres per day. However, this is dependent on available funds and supplier capacity,” said Limberg.
Water inspectors have fanned out across Cape Town since level 3 water restrictions were imposed in November. Almost 300 contravention notices have been issued and more than 200 consumers have been told to appear in court.
Another 712 notices have been issued for offences such as lack of borehole information, water pollution, blocked sewers and water running to waste.
“Contraventions can result in a spot fine of up to R5 000, escalating up to R10 000 on conviction, or possible jail time for serious and repeat offenders,” said Limberg.