This is how the City of Cape Town says it plans to procure more water supply sources

City of Cape Town authorities are working around the clock to expand the city’s water supply sources. File picture: Pexels

City of Cape Town authorities are working around the clock to expand the city’s water supply sources. File picture: Pexels

Published Mar 7, 2024


With the population growing at a significant rate, City of Cape Town authorities are working around the clock to expand the City’s water supply sources.

According to Census 2022 data, Cape Town’s population is now 4,772,846, remarkably 27.6% higher than in 2011.

The City said increasing Cape Town's water supply sources is crucial to being able to accommodate rapid population growth, which has put strain on existing water infrastructure.

What is the plan of action?

Population growth and climate change pose direct risks to water security in a city prone to drought.

In a bid to increase water supply sources, the Water and Sanitation Directorate has implemented the New Water Programme (NWP).

The NWP aims to add 300 million litres of water per day from new sources by 2030.

This is set to include: clearing alien invasive plants, groundwater extraction through aquifers, water reuse, infrastructure maintenance and long-term plans for desalination.

This is what it entails and how it works.

Removal of Alien Invasive Species

Conservationist continue to work on eliminating alien invasive species near the dams, flora and fauna.

These invasive trees soak up over a staggering 54 billion litres of water a year. According to The Nature Conservancy, this prevents water drainage into the Theewaterskloof dam that provides much of the water supply for not only Cape Town’s residents, but the neighbouring municipalities and agriculture as well.

In only a span of the past six months, the alien invasive clearing programme has seen 16.1 billion litres of water replenished.

This amounts to an equivalent of 44 million litres more water per day, gained from removing non-indigenous plants.

Faure New Water Scheme

The New Water Scheme will be built at the Faure Water Treatment Plant and Reservoir in the next few years.

The scheme aims to augment and diversify the City’s drinking water supply by an ultimate capacity of 100 million litres per day.

But how will it work? Treated wastewater will be purified through a new advanced water purification plant in accordance with international best practices to produce safe quality drinking water.


One of the moves to expand water supply is tapping into groundwater.

The City claims this will provide an additional source of water and reduces the reliance on dams.

This process entails removing water from underground sources, which is then filtered and treated to meet national water standards.


The proposed permanent desalination plant is a seawater reverse osmosis plant planned for the augmentation and diversification of the City’s drinking water supply, by a capacity of between 50 and 70 million litres per day (Mℓ/day).

What is noteworthy is that the infrastructure required for the plant has been planned and the technical feasibility studies have been completed.

Treated effluent as an alternative to potable water

The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien said the City is improving its water reuse capabilities by investing in advanced wastewater treatment technologies.

Currently, treated effluent is used for non-potable purposes such as irrigation and industrial processes.

Water shortages in Cape Town

The announcement of the NWP comes as various areas in Cape Town experienced water outages this week due to what the City said was planned work.

The work was being done on infrastructure to benefit residents, and residents should prepare accordingly, the City advised.

“Zero-pressure testing and step-testing are part of the installation process for pressure management technology.

“Tests are done in advance to see if any unmapped inflows need to be considered before installing smart pressure-reducing valves (PRVs),” said the City.

In affected areas, residents may experience low water pressure, and some may have no water coming out of their taps for some time during the overnight testing period.

IOL News