Dam levels are dangerously low in the Western Cape with Day Zero looming in March 2018. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/ANA Pictures

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town will now be able to effectively manage the drought by making much-needed budgetary changes. 

Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba has granted permission for the city to stray from regulations by essentially cutting down red tape, according to media reports. The local municipality is underway with exploring measures in order to prevent a full-blown crisis. 

The city recently revealed plans for a new water source. The temporary desalination plant for this water source is being built on East Pier Road at the V&A Waterfront. Owing to the need for a broader budget, the City of Cape Town has welcomed Gigaba’s decision. 

“This will assist us in speeding up the procurement process. The go-ahead from the minister allows me, as executive mayor, to immediately incur and approve unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure in terms of the MFMA (Municipal Finance Management Act). I want to extend a big thank you to Team Cape Town because the help of residents and businesses is vital as the City of Cape Town rolls out its plan to secure more alternative water sources”, said Mayor Patricia de Lille. 

File image: Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. IOL.

The city’s dam levels currently bear at 38.5% with usable water sitting at 28.5%.  According to de Lille, water consumption is at 585 million litres collective usage per day. 

“Together, we have managed to bring consumption down to 585 million litres of collective use per day from pre-restriction consumption levels of 1,1 billion litres per day”, said de Lille. However, water saving measures such as desalination has come under fire recently. This is owing to the extensive process through which the water has to undergo in order to be usable and drinkable. 

Desalination is a popular solution, but it’s not an overnight one, says an expert in the field of desalination and water treatment plants at the University of Stellenbosch, Professor Andre Burger. 

Theewaterskloof Dam. Picture: AYANDA NDAMANE/ANA

“It can be a very difficult task and it needs the best planning. It can never be done in one month. The much more larger ones can take up to three years to complete. The Mossel Bay plant took about six months to build. This is not a quick fix", said Burger. Added to the extensive cleansing process, there is also a difference in taste, notes Burger. 

The proposed desalination plants and the amount of fresh water it will produce: 

  • Hout Bay – 4 million litres per day
  • Granger Bay – 8 million litres per day
  • Red Hill/Dido Valley – 2 million litres per day
  • Strandfontein – 7 million litres per day
  • Monwabisi – 7 million litres per day
  • Harmony Park – 8 million litres per day
  • Cape Town Harbour – 50 million litres per day
  • And the universal sites – 20 million litres per day

READ ALSO: #WaterCrisis: Desalination 'not a quick fix'