Water Wednesday: Cape Town introduces water delivery charge

The new fixed delivery charge will enable the city to continue to operate its water supply network. Dr Gisela Kaiser, executive director of informal settlements, water, and waste services explained that Cape Town water demand has been reduced from 1200 million litres per day to 500 million litres per day. This means that the city is selling less than half the water it used to but having to provide the same delivery services. She explained how this revenue will be used and which households will be affected by it.

Cape Town has received good winter rainfall in the past few weeks which has eased the strain of the worst drought on record. Their collective water usage over the past week was 520 million litres per day. Dam levels have increased solidly by 6.3% to a total of 38.1% of storage capacity but dropped to 31% this week. The city council has even scrapped plans to hire a desalination barge to supplement the city’s water supply. They said that they will continue implementing other projects to ensure taps don’t run dry, including curtailing usage by reducing the water pressure and tapping underground aquifers.

The past year has seen the city commission three temporary small-scale desalination plants, which are nearing completion. These plants were built to augment the water supply but the city is weighing up its options to build permanent desalination and recycling facilities that will have a much bigger output.

Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member for water and waste services said: “Much experience has been gained over the past year through the development of the various projects.”

“Temporary desalination and re-use should not be pursued further as emergency solutions, as this is not affordable and rarely provides the promised volumes of water. For future resilience, permanent desalination and water re-use are recommended as alternative sources of water to add to ground and surface water supply sources.”
The city also urged its residents to keep saving water despite good rainfall in the past few weeks. “The good rainfall we have received over the past four weeks has increased our dams’ storage to the same levels they were at towards the end of winter of 2017. While this is good news, it is too soon to know what supply level is needed in order to safely navigate the summer of 2019. It is therefore critical that we continue to keep our consumption low,” they said in a statement.

Here is your weekly dam update:

  • The Vaal River System consisting of 14 dams serving mainly Gauteng Sasol and Eskom is at 100.2%.
  • The Cape Town Dams System consisting of six dams serving mainly City of Cape Town this week is at 31.6%.
  • The KwaZulu-Natal Dam System is at 65.5 % this week while Eastern Cape Dam System sits at 65%.

Here are the latest dam percentages throughout the country:

For a more in-depth rainfall update, visit WeatherSA or click here. For more information on the water storage levels across the country, visit the DWS site. For a comprehensive drought status report from the Department of Water and Sanitation, click here.


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