After a drought almost left Capetonians queuing for a mere few litres of water per person per day, the city of Cape Town wants your comment on a proposed R5.4bn strategy to avoid another possible “Day Zero”.
The proposed strategy, if accepted after public comment, presents ways of meeting the growing demand from groundwater, water reuse, and desalination over the next 10 years.
The goal will be to increase available water capacity by more than 300 million litres a day and to avoid hefty future water prices.
Current usage is hovering between the 600 million to 700 million a day mark – around half of what consumption used to be before the drought set in.
The plan still puts rain-fed dams centre stage. Two-thirds of the water is expected to come from this system because it is cheaper.
However, there will be new incentives and regulations to keep usage down without having to introduce punitive tariffs as it did during the drought.
Between February 15 and March 15, residents will have time to consider the proposals and offer feedback.
“The recent drought was a harsh lesson for us all,” said councillor Xanthea Limberg, member of the mayoral committee in charge of water and waste plans.
She said the city consulted local and international experts to make sure it would never have to go back to the severity of 50 litres of water per person per day again during the drought, but recognised that weather patterns have become unpredictable.
“We have now entered a time characterised by great uncertainty, where previous models for weather predictions and associated planning can no longer be relied upon,” she said.
“I have great confidence in the strategy and would like to encourage all residents to engage with it during this period, and share their considered inputs.”
The aim is to eventually be a “water-sensitive” city by 2040 and to provide a range of different water sources, for a variety of uses.
The proposed strategy includes examining over-allocations of water allowances, the removal of alien vegetation from catchment areas, and changing behaviour, such as being mindful of pollutants and chemicals that are used and then disposed of into the water system.
There would also be an incremental introduction of desalination and greater water reuse.
These would not be used all of the time as they are more expensive.
There are also proposed collaborations between urban and agricultural users.
“The reality is that investments to strengthen our resilience and reliability of supply will increase the cost of water. Through a pragmatic approach, these increases will be contained and we will not see the extreme price increases that we saw during the drought.”
Those wishing to have their say can do so online on the city’s website. Written submissions can be made at sub-council offices.
General queries can be relayed through Nathan Fisher on 021 400 1450. Those needing special assistance, such as for disabilities, can contact Ismail du Plooy on 021 400 1184.