Cape Town's Day Zero projection moves to May

Cape Town Day Zero, which was planned for 16 April 2018, is expected to move out to 11 May 2018, due to a decline in agricultural usage.

Cape Town Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said many agricultural users in the Western Cape supply system, where the city also draws its water from, have used up the water allocated to them, as per the agreement with the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

“Agricultural usage is therefore likely to drop significantly over the next weeks. Currently, the agriculture sector is drawing about 30% of the water in the supply scheme. This should fall to approximately 15% in March and 10% in April,” Neilson said.

He said, however, that the city does not have any control over agricultural water releases, and this is the best estimate they can make with the information at hand.

“This is a welcome decline in water usage and gives Cape Town and some of the other municipalities hope but importantly, we need to get our consumption down to 450 million litres per day to prevent the remaining water supplies running out before the arrival of winter rains.

“We cannot accurately predict the volume of rainfall still to come, or when it will come. Last year, we had abnormally low winter rainfall and we cannot assume that this year will be any different. Even if we have been given a slight reprieve at this stage, we are likely to be facing a late and dry winter,” Neilson said.

Driving down usage

Neilson said while the city has worked tirelessly on fixing bursts and leaks, installing water management devices and implementing advanced pressure management to drive down consumption and minimise leaks and bursts, urban demand remains highly reliant on the behaviour of water users.

As of 1 February 2018, level 6B water restrictions and tariffs came into effect to help finance water services and to reduce usage.

Neilson said the tariffs remain based on usage - the more you use, the more you pay.

“High users will be hit especially hard. The city does not make a profit on income from the sale of water. This is part of the city’s efforts to avoid Day Zero and to create financial stability for the provision of water services,” he said.

Although the city has brought usage down from 1.1 billion litres per day to just under 600 million litres per day, Neilson stressed the need to get to 450 million litres of collective usage per day.

Currently, dam levels in Cape Town are at 25.5%, a decline of 0.8%. Total water consumption is 547 million litres per day, 97 million litres above the target of 450 million litres per day.

Visit www.capetown.gov/thinkwater for all water-related information, including Level 6B restrictions and FAQs about Day Zero, as well as tips to lower usage even further.

Also visit www.capetown.gov.za/watermap to see if your household is painting the city green to avoid Day Zero. – SAnews.gov.za