Cape Town looks high and low for H2O

Sunday Times - - NEWS - DAVE CHAMBERS

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.

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