Burst pipes and leaks account for much of the City of Cape Town's water losses. Picture: Tracey Adams/ANA Pictures
Cape Town - The Western Cape wastes massive amounts of water through leaking pipes and other infrastructure problems. And with day zero looming for water, the possibility of queuing at water tanks might become a reality, said Greenpeace’s former director, Kumi Naidoo.

“The Western Cape wastes massive amounts of water through leaking pipes and other infrastructure problems. Water might need to be tanked in from neighbouring provinces that have been experiencing less water stress than the Western Cape,” Naidoo said.

“It seems that we are still in denial that climate change impacts predicted by scientists suggest that southern Africa will experience extended droughts in the future. There has also been a lack of political leadership, and this trickles down to the municipal level where we have not maintained or upgraded infrastructure and protected the scare water supply.”

Recent maintenance work had to be done at the Leeu River Diversion Weir, which diverts water to the Voelvlei Dam. This helped to increase the water supply to the dam, which provides water for Cape Town.

The provincial department of tourism, economic development and agriculture said it was estimated that a total of 7.5 million cubic metres of water was lost last year.

The City previously said it had many leaking pipes and that it was fixing the infrastructure. This also included installing water meters at the houses of the City’s highest consumers.

Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, said their burst pipes rate had been reduced from 63.9 bursts per 100km to 31 bursts. 

“Last month, water losses were 17.7%,” she said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Centre in the Department of Co-operative Governance announced it would be making emergency disaster relief available to the City of Cape Town.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the purpose of the funds was “solely to provide emergency relief for the drilling of boreholes and the installation of pumps and pipelines due to drought conditions”.

“The incoming grant from the disaster management centre will go a long way towards the implementation of the programmes that are in place as part our Water Resilience Strategy,” she said.

The City plans to utilise the funds to respond to the immediate needs of the drought, and to alleviate the immediate consequences.

Cape Argus