Day Zero will not occur in 2018 and this means taps will stay open, provided Cape Town residents continue consuming water at current levels and there is decent rainfall, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said today.
Maimane was speaking at a press briefing at the party’s federal head office in Cape Town.
“Just less than two months ago, the City of Cape Town was in a dire position. We were told that due to the worst drought the city had seen in over 100 years, its water supply was near depletion, and Day Zero, the day on which the taps would turn off was set to arrive on April 12.
“I am therefore happy to announce today that provided we continue consuming water at current levels, and we receive decent winter rainfall this year, Day Zero will not occur in 2018. This means the taps will stay open in 2018!”
The DA leader said consumption now sat at between 510 and 520 million litres per day, down from almost 1.2 billion litres in February 2015.
“This 60% reduction in consumption is an incredible achievement and outperforms many other cities across the world which faced severe droughts, including Sao Paulo, Melbourne, and the State of California,” he added.
Maimane, however, said that while the collective achievement must be celebrated, “this is not the time for complacency”.
“While it is now unlikely to occur in 2018, Day Zero is still a very real possibility during the 2019 summer months if we do not have significant rainfall this winter. I want to reiterate, and cannot stress enough, that we need to keep at current consumption levels until at least after the winter rainfall. We can and we must continue to use less than 50 litres of water (per person) per day so that Day Zero can be defeated in its entirety.”
He added that he was confident that residents will not return to previous wasteful water practices. “There is a ‘new normal’ in the Western Cape around water use. We must continue in this current spirit of utmost respect for this precious natural resource, and never waste it. It must also be made clear that this hinges on the national department of water and sanitation honouring its agreement as to the amount of bulk water that will be supplied to the city and the province over the year,” said Maimane.
Depending on the extent of consumption and the amount of rain received over the winter months, the city may be in a position to scale back the current restrictions from Level 6B to Level 5 in the near future, Maimane added.
The DA leader said he was not satisfied with the way the city had responded to the drought crisis as Cape Town residents felt that their local government had not communicated openly with them, with many blaming the party which is in control of the city and the Western Cape province.
“Cape Town is a DA government, it was important that I intervened to ensure that residents received the level of service and honest government that they expect from the DA. I, therefore, decided to take political control of the situation, appoint a Drought Crisis Team, made up of the individuals sitting on this panel today and commit to doing everything possible to fight this water crisis on all fronts.”
In January, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille was stripped of her duties of managing the drought crisis after she was blamed by the DA for the ongoing water crisis. The party described the mayor’s focus as “elsewhere” and her messages about water unclear.
Maimane said when the decision was taken, dam levels were sitting at 27.2%, with only 17.2% of usable water left. “We made one thing clear, to fight this water crisis and Defeat Day Zero, we had to band together and mobilise public support around cutting consumption to record lows.
“Residents responded magnificently, rolled up their sleeves, and got stuck in. Individuals, families, communities, businesses, private dam owners and many others. Everyone played their part in this city-wide collective effort to keep the taps open. Each week, the water consumption steadily dropped, and we were able to push back Day Zero by days, and then weeks, and then months,” he said.