Cape residents asked to keep water conscious habits after below-average rainfall this winter

Theewaterskloof is the largest water-supplying dam in the province. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Theewaterskloof is the largest water-supplying dam in the province. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 27, 2022


Cape Town - Statistics from the City of Cape Town’s weekly water dashboard have shown there may be a reason to be more water conscious again.

After concern about the predicted dry winter in the province, these latest statistics reveal that dam levels have started rapidly dropping earlier than normal this year.

Siseko Mbandezi, the acting Mayco member for water and sanitation, confirmed that Cape Town had experienced a dry winter this year compared to previous years and that the City’s monitoring of rainfall and run-off indicated that this year was notably below average.

However, the risk of water restrictions was currently low. Dams supplying Cape Town were at 82.5% whereas at this time last year, dam levels were at 100.5 %.

“The City is actively monitoring the dam levels and engaging with the National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and other stakeholders to ensure that Cape Town is water secure,” said Mbandezi.

Mbandezi reminded residents and businesses to be water wise at all times, including this summer.

UCT climate system analyst, PhD student Stefaan Conradie, said that the City’s weekly water dashboard document this week showed that dam levels had started rapidly dropping, at more than 1% per week – earlier than normal this year.

“Near the end of the usual dam inflow season (from May to October), we're at about 82.5%. That may not sound too bad, but in 2020 and 2021 we were close to 100% at this stage. We started May 2022 at 66.5%, so the net gain was only 16% the whole winter. That's not much more than during 2017, the driest year on record,” Conradie said.

He said September and October were also very dry and no significant rainfall was forecast for catchment areas for the rest of the month.

“If the summer is long and dry and next winter is drier than normal, we could be in serious trouble by 2024,” Conradie said.

Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said the dam levels within the Bulk Raw Water Supply System, the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS), were between 15% to 30% lower than the same dateline in the previous year, 2021. However, this was similar to October 2019.

Ratau said rainfall for the Western Cape’s Atlantic Zone (which accumulated predominantly in winter) was less than the last two years and followed a trend of the 2019 season, which was less than average normal rainfall but nonetheless significantly better than the 2015 and 2017 years which were the lowest recorded rainfall seasons in history.

The requirements for water restrictions from the WCWSS is usually assessed at the end of the winter rainfall season, the end of October. Ratau confirmed that the DWS will have its dry run meeting this week.

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