Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich says the City of Cape Town has been misleading the public about the severity of the water crisis, File picture: Bertram Malgas

Cosatu Open letter to the City of Cape Town, Provincial Government and National Government on the fact that the City has less than 10 % potable water

Please receive correspondence from our offices in relation to the water crisis in the Western Cape, which summarises the fact that the City has conceded on the numbers, that there is less than 10 % potable water left in the City supply dams, which will most likely run out in August 2017 .

The meeting had revealed that the City of Cape Town has been misleading the citizens of Cape Town on the extent of the Water crisis. The City of Cape Town had agreed to Cosatu assertion, that all things being equal there will be no water in the taps by May 2018. There have been water shortages since 2015/ 2016 and the reserves in the dams have been steadily declining. The decline in the reserves is because the amount of water used during that period was more than the amount of water that came into the water system. Given this situation and the same supply and demand in 2017, the water would be exhausted by May 2018. The City has not put in place any measures that would contribute water into the supply by May 2018. There are some medium and long term measures, but none of which will come on line in time to assist to resolve the short term crisis for 2017 and 2018.

The City of Cape Town only response to the crisis is to put in place demand side measures that essentially only ask people to use less water. The average water use was 800 Million litres per day and the reduced targets is 600 million litres per day. Yet by the admission of Ms Lindberg the usage levels for Monday 9 May 2017 was 712 million litres per day, indicating a clear failure of the water demand system.

All the above points out is that the water will most probably run out by July 2017, or definitely run out by May 2018. The City has been misleading the Citizens’ of the City of Cape Town, and the crisis is much more severe than we were led to believe, by the Mayor.

The mitigation measures are not in place and there is just some reference to issues that are still at environmental impact assessment stage, or tender processes, that would see finished products by 2021 only. The Section 77 Committee has put in place a subcommittee that will engage on the issues of Desalination, Aquifer, pressure reduction and recycle of used water. The City of Cape Town clearly does not have adequate plans in place to respond to the water crisis. This Sub Committee will meet with all Government departments on the 23 May 2017 at 10 30 and will bring together all levels of government and Cosatu and its water experts, to resolve the water crisis.

Cosatu is calling on National Government to urgently intervene to assist the City in addressing the looming crisis. So National Government must be part of the engagements to find solutions to the water crisis. A failure to work together will only see the citizens of Cape Town face a crippling water shortage that will lead to thirst and illness across the cape Flats.

The City responded as follows to the demands by Cosatu and will engage on these in the Sub Committee;

No more water to be allowed into pools – agreed

No more water to be allowed for gardening – agreed

No more car washers with hose pipes – The comm. Will discuss the details

All taps in the City should have their pressure reduced significantly, so that they effectively experience a drip system.

All pool water must be returned to the water system – it will be engaged with the Committee

Cosatu demanded that level 4 savings be implemented immediately given the crisis in the water system. The City refused to agree to this and essentially delayed the implementation of the level 4 savings until July 2017. This makes no sense as the amount of water that could be saved, could significantly impact on the supply. The Mayor has the right to announce special measures for savings in the context of the disaster that she declared around water in March 2017, but refuses to prioritise the water needs of the Capetonians.

We hereby formally request the data on the water levels in the dams supplying Cape Town over the last 4 years, so we can indicate the usage and supply levels and reserves of water available. Should your good offices fail to provide the information by Friday 12 May we will get the information from you, through Access to information legislation.

This section 77 was convened by Nedlac because of an appreciation of the crisis that exists in the water management in Cape Town and the Western Cape. The intervention by a National Agency exposes the inability of the Western Cape Government to ensure that people’s interest is secured better together. This is the clearest indication of a City that is unable to manage the needs of the people of Cape Town, when it requires more than a press statement.

We trust that you will respond with the Urgency that this matter requires, in respect of your confirmation of the proposed meeting and the matters referred to.

Yours faithfully

Tony Ehrenreich