Capetonians urged to use less water over the summer to keep dams fuller amid load shedding

Theewaterskloof. Residents in the Western Cape have been urged to save water as dam levels are lower than last time this year. Picture: SUPPLIED

Theewaterskloof. Residents in the Western Cape have been urged to save water as dam levels are lower than last time this year. Picture: SUPPLIED

Published Dec 23, 2022


Cape Town - The City City called on residents to be water-wise this summer and set a new maximum limit for collective water use to be no more than 850 million litres per day (MLD) – to keep the dams and reservoirs fuller for longer during prolonged stages of load-shedding, which affected water supply operations.

This time last year, Cape Town’s dam levels were at 97% – now they are at 72.2%. The City said the risk for water restrictions remained low but residents were encouraged to use water wisely in case of low winter rainfall next year.

Water and Sanitation Mayco member Siseko Mbandezi said: “Last summer, usage exceeded 1000 MLD a few times during heat waves, and this took us back to the kind of usage last seen before the drought crisis of the 2016 to 2018 period.

“We are already seeing usage starting to spike in recent weeks because of the warmer weather, rising well above the 900 MLD mark.”

Should the level of load shedding increase, and water usage not reduce, Mbandezi said the City may be forced to implement water restrictions to ensure enough water production capacity and storage in the bulk water supply reservoirs.

“The winter rainfall next year will be crucial in determining whether restrictions are required for next summer,” Mbandezi said.

Ntombizanele Bila-Mupariwa, the provincial head of the Department of Water and Sanitation, said the average storage levels of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) was 71.30% and although the unpredictability of weather patterns in the Western Cape was of concern, the department was fairly comfortable that the current available storage would cater for the demand of this summer, if all water users use water sparingly.

Stefaan Conradie, of the UCT Climate System Analysis Group, said: “We’re not losing water from the dams as quickly as in 2014/2015 anymore, partly because of some recent rains and partly because of lower water usage, which is a good sign.

“Keeping water usage around 850 MLD for the summer should help us ensure that the risk of a water crisis for 2023/24 remains small, even if rainfall next year continues to be below normal.”

Bila-Mupariwa said the department implemented measures to assess the status of the WCWSS more regularly as confidence in the predictability of long-term weather patterns was low.

“This assessment of the system will assist the department to implement restrictions as soon as its required,” Bila-Mupariwa said.

“Hence, the importance of every person within the Western Cape to use water more sparingly and efficiently.”

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Cape Argus