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Dam levels near critical

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Cape Town - Dam levels were on Tuesday at near-critical quantities after dropping nearly 10 percent, from 51.2 percent last month to an alarming 42.5 percent this week.

The City of Cape Town’s Level 3 water restrictions appear to have done little to curb excessive water consumption and, despite billing offenders R33 million collectively, the restrictions have not worked.

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Water consumption had increased to 890 million litres a day from the 859 million litres consumed, on average, every day last week.

The Level 3 restrictions implemented on November 1 were enforced to try to cap water consumption at 800 million litres/day.

Mayoral committee member for water services Xanthea Limberg said the city had no other option but to strengthen water restrictions.

If approved, they would include more stringent conditions on the use of drinking water for watering gardens, she said on Tuesday.

Four of the municipality’s six dams were below 50 percent, while the Berg River dam was at 53.5 percent and the Upper Steenbras dam at 71 percent.

The least full dam was Theewaterskloof, at 36.8 percent.

Limberg said if the trend continued, it could spell disaster by the start of winter when the collective dam levels would be at an estimated 20percent.

“This leaves a very low margin of safety as it is difficult to extract the last 10 percent of a dam’s volume."

“We do not expect to run out of water before the next rainy season but constant water usage above the target of 800 million litres per day of collective use, as has been the case, is not sustainable. We have the ability now to turn this situation around if water use is reduced.

“Worryingly, there has been a lot of speculation seeking to attribute the missed targets to the influx of tourists, the spate of fires or poor water habits in informal settlements."

“Such speculation is dangerous in that many people could relax their savings efforts or use these excuses to dodge responsibility.”  

siyabonga.sesant@inl.co.za

Cape Argus

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