Water shedding would be 'last resort' as dam levels drop

By Siyabonga Sesant Time of article published May 3, 2017

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has been left with just over 12% of usable water left in its six major dams collectively, with Theewaterskloof hardest hit by the persistent drought.

Water levels at Theewaterskloof dam dropped to 17% this week while the most full dam was the Upper Steenbras at just under 55%.

Mayor Patricia de Lille’s spokesperson, Zara Nicholson, had previously said water shedding was a last resort and would only be considered when “we get to a really extreme situation”.

Last week the municipality, which has a population of more than 3.7 million, said the “necessary adjustments” were being made to ensure drinking water was treated to acceptable standards as the quality depreciated as a consequence of plummeting dam levels.

Mayco member for water services Xanthea Limberg said one of the reasons the last 10% of a dam’s water could not be extracted, was that it would be difficult to treat to acceptable standards. 

“Despite the recent rains the situation remains critical, and the city calls on residents to maintain their savings efforts. We thank the many residents who are still active water ambassadors.

“We do, however, need to become more consistent as our consumption remains too high considering the unexpected hot weather which continues and irrespective of the bit of rain that we have had.”

Limberg said the municipality was busy finalising proposals for further intensified water restrictions, which were subject to due process.

“In the meantime, the city continues its plea that residents stop using municipal water for all outside use, including for watering the garden and filling up pools even on the currently allowed watering days,” she said.

“The city is also continuing with extensive pressure reduction programmes to reduce the flow of water at a time, as well as water losses through leakage in the pipework of the distribution system. The regulation of supply is under way in the central, southern and eastern suburbs and within the next week it will be expanded to the northern suburbs.

“Consumers should not be alarmed if they experience very low pressure or if the supply in their area drops away as it will only be temporary until the balance is achieved,” Limberg said.

The Department of Water and Sanitation in the Western Cape said it would continue to monitor the situation. Provincially, dam levels stood at 21% compared to 30.5% the same time last year. 

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