VIDEO: We cannot afford to lose momentum now – Maimane on water crisis

Maimane said the steady decline in water usage by the agricultural sector has been a significant contributing factor in pushing out Day Zero.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Wednesday thanked Capetonians for playing their part in reducing water consumption in the City, but warned that it would require a collective effort to avert Day Zero.

At a press briefing on several “demand management” techniques to further reduce usage, Maimane said that over the past week, Capetonians consumed an average 547 million litres per day, a “marked improvement from last week”.

Maimane said this is still 97 million litres more than the 450 million litres a day target that we need to reach “in order to defeat Day Zero altogether”.

Day Zero, when taps are projected to run dry, has been moved out by four weeks to May 11, but current level 6B restrictions remain in place meaning Cape Town residents are restricted to 50 litres of water per person a day.

“We cannot afford to lose momentum now – we must keep going. Day Zero is still a very real possibility.”

City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Nielson said Day Zero projections are conservative estimates, a worst case scenario, if consumption is not driven down to target.

He said harsher restrictions should have been imposed in November last year: “We were for many months sitting around 600 mega litres per day … you would have to ask the mayor why she did not institute the level six measures that I have driven and that were adopted by Council.”

Maimane said the steady decline in water usage by the agricultural sector has been a significant contributing factor in pushing out Day Zero.

“It is important for residents to understand that the allocation of water to agricultural users is determined solely by National Government. The City of Cape Town has no legal power to supply farmers with more water. Once they have reached their quota, they are required to apply to National Government for additional supply.”

Already the agricultural sector has used 90% of its allocation, meaning a significantly decreased demand on the Western Cape supply system.

Nielson said each year the national department of water and sanitation commits an amount to the City of Cape Town. In November last year, the allocation for the year until October 2018 was 174.4 million cubic litres.

He said he and Western Cape premier Helen Zille would meet with water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane later on Wednesday to ask her to commit that amount to the City.

Maimane detailed some of the demand management techniques being introduced by the City – these include pressure reduction across zones, the installation of water management devices, and increased tariffs for those using more water than the daily allowance.

He said supply solutions remain on track – three desalination plants are in the pipeline and three groundwater abstraction aquifers will at their peak supply almost 150 million litres of water a day to the City.

The Cape Flats aquifer is on track, while the Atlantis aquifer is already producing 5 million litres a day.

“Drilling at the Table Mountain aquifer began in November last year, and water will enter the system from later this month until June 2019, providing an approximate 50 million litres per day.”

Maimane said he was confident the City can defeat Day Zero and thanked residents for assisting in “creative and inspiring ways”.

“Every day we push Day Zero back, is a day closer to defeating it in its entirety.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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