New water restrictions proposed for Cape Town

Cape Town - It is going to be a long, dry summer for Capetonians and holidaymakers in the city this festive season.

The city council plans to implement Level 3 water restrictions on November 1, which means there will be an indefinite 20 percent curtailment on all water use.

The Cape Town city council plans to implement Level 3 water restrictions on November 1, which means there will be an indefinite 20 percent curtailment on all water use. Credit: CAPE ARGUS

Other water and sanitation tariffs come into effect in December.

Under the enhanced restrictions, residents will be prohibited from using sprinkler systems or watering their gardens and washing their cars with hosepipes with municipality supplied drinking water.

Young children will also have to do without portable play pools this summer, which under the Level 3 restrictions are prohibited.

Automatic pool filling systems will also be banned. Only pools fitted with a cover may be topped up manually.

Commercial car washes will have to comply with industry best practice.

The increased water savings come off the back of a 10 percent restriction implemented in January.

Under a directive from the Department of Water and Sanitation, the increased restrictions will also apply to West Coast municipalities including the Saldanha Bay, Swartland and Berg River local municipalities.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said on Tuesday that the council was forced to act now to conserve the scarce resource.

“Unfortunately you can’t bring in water saving measures if there is no water. So we have to bring in the water-saving measures while we still have water. I’m sure the people of Cape Town will understand we have to do it now.”

Mayoral committee member for corporate services Xanthea Limberg said the enhanced restrictions were being triggered by the current low dam levels which are almost 15 percent lower than at the same time last year.

The city council had also been issued a directive from the water department to take more stringent steps to conserve water.

“If we continue on the current way of utilising water in the city, we are at risk of having only 45 percent of our dams full. The dams that provide to the city are sitting at 62 percent,” Limberg said.

The restrictions would remain in place until lifted by the council’s executive director of utilities.

Approving the Level 3 restrictions on Tuesday, the mayco said the intention was to ensure water supply to the city was not interrupted and to sustain the city’s needs now and in future. A report on the planned restrictions will be presented to a full council meeting scheduled for October 26.

“It is therefore unavoidable and imperative that the City of Cape Town in order to achieve the said 20 percent curtailment and for compliance purposes with the notice in question, must further impose an additional 10 percent restriction to the current 10 percent imposed since January 2016,” said a report to mayco.

The accompanying tariff changes will mean the current indigent grant of R115.93 per month allocated to residential properties that have a municipal valuation of up to R400 000, will be increased to R122.99. The restriction on the use of hosepipes and sprinklers also applies to golf courses, sports fields and parks. No new landscaping will be permitted at golf courses, sports facilities, parks and schools unless irrigated with non-potable water.

All well-points and boreholes will have to be registered with the council and all properties where alternative, non-potable water resources are used, must display visible signage to that effect.

Users who have been granted Level 2 exemptions, will have to re-apply to qualify for level 3 exemptions.

The mayco report said the council expected the increased water restrictions could cause unrest in communities which were struggling to pay for the service under normal 10 percent restrictions, but still needed more than the basic allocation.

Last month the department issued a notice stating the necessity of limiting water taken from the Western Cape’s major dams due to insufficient rains.

The curtailment entails limiting water taken from systems that supply raw water to the council, as well as the Swartland, Saldanha Bay and Berg River local municipalities.

Water from this system also augments supply to Stellenbosch and to agricultural users downstream of the Berg River, Voelvlei and Theewaterskloof dams.