Theewaterskloof Dam - one of the dams that supplies water to Cape Town - is drying up. Pictures: Ian Landsberg, Cindy Waxa
Cape Town - Level 3b water restrictions, the City of Cape Town’s water red alert, have officially kicked in on Wednesday as dam levels continue to dip dangerously close to crisis point.

Water is decreasing at an alarming rate with statistics indicating that four years ago dams in the Mother City were twice as full than they are now.

Collective dam levels stood at 79 percent in 2013, a staggering 40 percent higher than where they are now, at just above 39 percent.

Many golf courses are using grey water to irrigate their greens. Pictures: Ian Landsberg, Cindy Waxa

Officials have warned that since the last 10 percent of any dam’s water supply cannot be extracted, it effectively means the city only has 29 percent of potable water left to use.

Dam levels have been steadily declining, with Theewaterskloof dam, one of the city’s six major dams, dipping to an all-time low of just above 34 percent this week.

The two fullest dams are the Upper Steenbras dam, at 58.7 percent, and Berg River dam, which reported a 49 percent remaining water supply.

From 79 percent in 2013, the crippling drought reported between 2015 and 2016 saw dam levels reducing by almost 30 percent over that period. Cape Town’s dams were 75.7 percent full in 2015, but plummeted to 41.7 percent last year.

Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member for water services, said that once again this week water consumption was above the collective water usage target of 800 million litres a day.

The Theewaterskloof Dam - one of the dams that supplies water to Cape Town - is drying up. Pictures: Ian Landsberg, Cindy Waxa

“At usage levels of 807 million litres, we are still 7 million litres above the daily water usage target, irrespective of the recent rainfall,” Limberg said.

“There are particularly high-use areas in the metro such as in Athlone, Newlands, Newfields, Manenberg, Constantia, Lansdowne, Somerset West and Kraaifontein, among others.

“It must, however, be emphasised that there are high water users in all suburbs across the metro.”

Mayor Patricia de Lille had also said that the city’s four newly announced area-based mayoral committee members would engage with the 20 000 high water consumers “to bring culprits to book”. 

Limberg said the city would also continue to implement other key initiatives for water management and conservation of resources.

Officials also appealed to residents who use boreholes and wellpoints, saying while the extraction of groundwater remained free, responsible water habits should still apply.

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Cape Argus