The City of Cape Town had already received 54000 comments during their public participation process for the proposed drought levy, which is closing on Monday. File Picture: Bongani Shibulane/African News Agency

Cape Town - As of Friday noon, the City of Cape Town had already received 54000 comments during their public participation process for the proposed drought levy, which is closing on Monday.
Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for finance in the city, said they believe that a “drought charge is critical” in order to make up the shortfall of revenue in order to “increase the security of our water supply”.

“There will be a council meeting on Friday next week to consider the comments received and to determine the way forward regarding water resilience in the City of Cape Town.”

He said that any decision taken at the meeting will inform the adjustment budget “that will be tabled for council for approval at the end of January 2018”.

“The proposal to raise revenue via the rates account during the current financial year will also need to be approved by the National Minister of Finance.”

According to the City’s dashboard, Day Zero is predicted for April 22, with the province’s dams currently at 29.7% capacity.

In a statement issued by the City in November last year, taps are set to be turned off once the dams reach a level of 13.5%.

Once this happens, residents will have to collect their water supply from one of 200 water collection sites that will be spread out across the city.

According to the statement, the plan is to distribute 25 litres of water per person each day as set out by the World Health Organisation.

These watering sites are expected to cater to an estimated 20000 people per site every day.

Dr Kevin Winter from UCT’s Environmental and Geographical Science Future Water Institute said the idea of water points are certainly a wake-up call; however, he doesn’t believe that it will reach that point.

“The City has been quite good in helping us see what the reality is. I really don’t think we are going to go down that route."

“To be honest, I think it is going to rain, I think we will probably get through this crisis.”

Winter added he doesn’t believe the City is going to run out of water as he sees them being able to manage the crisis “very carefully”.

“What they can’t tell you is exactly how much water can be drawn out of the aquifers because any water that is underground takes time to understand the yield. It will take a little while before we can get the real figures coming out despite what the mayor and others are saying that there is potentially 150million litres there. This can only really be determined over the next couple of weeks.”

He said information would be clearer and more definite by February.

In terms of the drought charge, Winter said this is something that is needed, but that people have not taken too well to it as many residents have seen it as being counter productive to the investment they have made in terms of their water-saving methods.

“The City has to find the cost of operating its systems right now and maintaining it. That is crucial and I don’t think the citizens should be arguing that. I think it is the approach of the drought levy that caused the real issue. People are annoyed that they have to pay a tax which is not directly related to their water usage.”

However, he said it is important that the City raises the nearly R2 billion that they need to secure water.

“What we really need to do now is to find incentives for those who have found water and are even treating water on their own properties to be able to share it,” said Winter.

Weekend Argus