Opinion / 26 October 2017, 9:13pm / Patricia de Lille
Over the past few months we have all become acutely aware of the severity of the drought crisis that is currently gripping our region.
This is an unprecedented situation which none of us has seen in our lifetime.
I want to thank and commend Capetonians for their great efforts and for being partners on this journey by saving water.
This week we 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.
This has been no easy feat and it has been a massive adaptation exercise with the help of residents, combined with our pressure management interventions, leak management programme, and the installation of water management devices.
If we keep this up and save even more, we will continue to stretch the water left in our dams while the City gets on with work on the augmentation plans for additional water supplies.
I want to assure residents again that we will not allow a well-run city to run out of water and this will be achieved through progressive savings and our multi-layered augmentation plan to build water resilience.
What we are currently facing is not unique. Many cities around the world have to deal with the impacts of climate change.
The fact is that this multi-portfolio programme to supply water from alternative sources which the City is undertaking is beyond our constitutional mandate and competencies.
Even so, we will not let Capetonians down, and our Water Resilience Plan is progressing to make sure of that.
I would like to thank the specialists who have come on board to help the City, developing the specifications for this highly complex augmentation programme.
This is being managed on a daily basis, with extensive City resources being ploughed into this work.
I am making a commitment today that we will be improving our efforts to communicate directly with all Capetonians on our augmentation plans.
Please expect detailed communication from us on how you will be affected and how we are progressing with augmentation in the coming weeks.
This information will be distributed directly to households and communities in a simple, readable format.
Councillors and ratepayers’ associations will be key to this communication effort, and I will be on the ground showing residents what we are doing.
Starting on Sunday, I will be undertaking a range of site visits and I will take the media into my confidence to help us illustrate the progress of the City’s demand management and augmentation work.
But my message today is clear: we have a plan, we will supply water. But Capetonians, your help is vital and so we need you to keep saving.
I am continually assessing the augmentation plan along with highly skilled technical teams.
There are 24 tenders in the tender demand plan, and these procurement processes are being run in parallel with one another.
We are using accelerated tender processes, but everyone needs to play by the rules.
The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) is very clear that we need to follow competitive processes, but we also need to get the best products for the city.
Because we are trying to comply with the law, we will need to hold a special adjustment budget meeting.
We have the money for the augmentation schemes in the system, but the biggest stumbling block in our plans is getting approval from Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in terms of section 29 of the MFMA.
On August 28, I wrote to Minister Gigaba to request approval for departures from MFMA regulations, which section 170 makes provision for to allow us to proceed with a budgetary amendment.
My request has not been responded to by the minister, except for officials in Treasury asking for clarity, which we gave, and in the past two months there have been numerous follow-ups to the minister’s office and an appeal to the Presidency.
I am appealing to the minister directly to please respond to my correspondence to allow us to have a special adjustment budget.
If we get no response from the minister, we will have no choice but to proceed with a special adjustment budget next week to enable us to proceed as fast as we can with our water augmentation plans.
We can confirm once again that our augmentation plans comprise desalination, water re-use and ground water abstraction, and we will incrementally scale up all of the various schemes to build resilience.
We are not only building water resilience in the immediate future, but also looking ahead to the years to come and how we ensure water security beyond 2018.
This is where our augmentation plans are:
There are currently four identified sites for which planning is well under way to get supply from the Atlantis and Silwerstroom, Cape Flats, Cape Peninsula and Hottentots-Holland aquifers.
The new water from these schemes will increase incrementally, and over time, the yield extracted from these sources will rise to 100 million litres of water a day from these four sites.
The City has already managed to increase the production capacity of the existing Atlantis and Silwer- stroom aquifer by 5 million litres a day.
There are seven tenders in progress at various stages of the procurement process for the aquifer schemes, including drilling, mechanical work and civil works tenders.
For modular land-based desalination plants, there are currently eight tenders in progress in the tender procurement process.
These are for the following sites:
Hout Bay - to produce 4 million litres per day.
Granger Bay - to produce 8 million litres of water per day.
Red Hill/Dido Valley - to produce 2 million litres of water per day.
Strandfontein - to produce 7 million litres per day.
Monwabisi - to produce 7 million litres per day.
Harmony Park - to produce 8 million litres per day.
Cape Town harbour - to produce 50 million litres per day.
The universal sites - to produce 20 million litres per day.
Water from the desalination sites will be increased incrementally in the system from February.
Desalination from Cape Town harbour via barges will yield first water from April 2018. The plan is to augment up to 50 million litres per day from this source.
In terms of the permanent land-based desalination plant at Cape Town harbour, with an estimated yield of 50 million litres per day, this is expected to come online from May 2018.
For Zandvliet Wastewater Treatment Works, the pipeline work has already started and the yield will rise incrementally from this source to produce 10 million litres per day.
We are also progressing with design and planning to supply potable water from the Potsdam, Cape Flats, Macassar and Athlone wastewater treatment works.
We are working on these plans to build extra capacity in preparation for another low-rainfall winter.
These schemes are due to come online after April 2018.
At the same time, the City is exploring a range of further options to extend the new water resources on a more permanent basis as part of our resilience efforts.
A project of this scale has never been done before, and we are working on these plans as fast as possible while the people of Cape Town save.
I must thank the City staff on the ground and in the water resilience team for working day and night to drive down demand and deliver these projects.
Last week, I visited Hillstar and personally said thank you.
Mr Speaker, I wish to also report to council that the Section 80 water resilience advisory committee has thus far met on three occasions since council gave them a mandate for its creation at the May council meeting.
The committee is chaired by the mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, councillor Xanthea Limberg.
This committee, created in terms of the Municipal Structures Act, includes representatives from our four local universities, from business, from civil society, from neighbouring municipalities and from sector development organisations.
The committee is receiving reports on the water resilience plan’s implementation and is providing feedback that is being used for refinements.
This past month I also had a fruitful meeting with the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, who gave her commitment to ensure that the department helps the City to acquire the various water licences for new schemes as speedily as possible.
The City has applied for four water licences from the national government, but to date we have received one licence.