Cape Town’s deputy mayor Ian Neilson wants water restrictions lowered, but knows the national government will only do so when dam levels reach 85%. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - Inundated by an avalanche of complaints, the city’s deputy mayor Ian Neilson now wants water restrictions gradually lowered, but knows very well that the national government will only do so when dam levels reach 85%.
Neilson said during a meeting with the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) last Friday that the City proposed there should be a gradual relaxation of restrictions. “The City has advocated for a conservative relaxation of the restriction levels, which would pave the way for the associated relaxation of the restriction tariffs.

“Dam levels have again improved over the past week, rising by 1.9% to 62% of storage capacity. The average water consumption for the past week was 513 million litres per day, down from the previous week’s 527 million litres per day.” Neilson’s request comes as the City dam levels reach 62% storage capacity.

“This means, for instance, that Cape Town is required to reduce usage by 45% of what it would normally be allocated. This is also how the City’s target of reaching 450million litres of water per day, or 50 litres per person per day, was calculated. The City has been advocating a risk-based and conservative adjustment of restriction levels for some time now.”

But spokesperson for the DWS Sputnik Ratau said the government’s position remained restrictions would only be lowered at 85% capacity.

He said the rains had helped the province over the last few days.

“But we are not even close to 70%. Before the drought was at its peak our dam levels were quite high. What we need to do is to ensure that there is sufficient water for all users. We are heading into the summer season where there is almost no rain.”

Neilson, however, said the proposal was supported by the other municipalities in the system. “Agriculture representatives motivated for a greater relaxation for agriculture.” The DWS undertook to give a response by Friday, he said.

Advocacy group Stop COCT founder Sandra Dickson said: “The City has been getting flack for this water issues and are trying to correct it. They should have never connected the tariffs to restrictions because now they find themselves in a rock and a hard place. If they reduce restrictions they have to reduce tariffs, which will mean less income.”

Cape Argus