Low water levels at Cape Town’s major dams mean that people need to conserve water.Picture: Itumeleng Englisg
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has said it would, at a cost of more than R300 million over three years, initiate several small-scale emergency schemes in order to boost its dwindling quantities of usable water.

Dam levels dropped to almost 28% this week, rendering the region with approximately 103 days of usable water left. This meant Cape Town could run out of water within less than four months.

Mayco committee member for water services Xanthea Limberg said dams were likely to reach extremely low levels by winter and were unlikely to recover satisfactorily with an average to below average rainfall in winter.

The City was going to accelerate its water resource augmentation programme to increase water supplies, Limberg said, adding that Mayor Patricia de Lille had declared a local state of disaster in order to accelerate various small-scale emergency water supply schemes.

Limberg said these would include the drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) which could yield two million litres of water a day.

Another initiative being considered was a small-scale desalination package plant.

“The capital costs of the emergency schemes are estimated at R315 million over three financial years,” Limberg said.

“The City’s Water and Sanitation Department will be funding these projects primarily via internal re-prioritisation.”

Limberg said: “Active assistance is required from both the provincial and national governments to manage the situation effectively and to protect the well-being of communities and the economy. This would include technical assistance, funding and prioritising any regulatory approvals that may be required to implement mitigation measures without delay.”

She said the City’s contingency plans included “further intensified restriction measures and the possibility of intermittent supply to conserve available water should dams drop to dangerous levels”.

Water consumption over the past week reached 750 million litres a day of the collective usage target of 700 million litres a day.

“The City of Cape Town thanks those consumers who continue to find new ways of saving water but challenges Team Cape Town to see if we can get much closer to the usage target. We simply have to do so,” Limberg said.

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Cape Argus