The City has pushed the date for when Cape Town will run out of water to May 2018 instead of the predicted month of March. Residents are being urged to curb consumption further so that Day Zero is not moved up again.

Cape Town currently uses 82 million litres more than the daily target, with daily consumption at 582 million litres. Consumption noticeably dropped from a collective consumption of around 700 million litres a day when the prospect of Day Zero was introduced.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said yesterday, that reducing demand was the greatest factor in avoiding Day Zero. “Unless we reduce demand to 500 million litres per day, there is a risk that we will reach Day Zero in May 2018.”

The predicted Day Zero would be pushed much further if there was some rain, but “because we cannot accurately predict how much rain we will receive, we have to ensure that we reduce demand sufficiently”, she said.

“The city is considering a transitional [water] levy,” De Lille said. “And it has to be temporary. People are struggling as it is. It will be political suicide to raise tariffs drastically. The problem is the municipal funding model is wrong. It is the same problem as with energy. It is, after all, the national government’s constitutional obligation to provide water.”

Water tariffs have risen about 19% over the past year for demand in excess of the free first 6m³. This compares with a global average of 3.91% from July 2016 and July 2017, according to the Global Water Intelligence’s 2017 Global Water Intelligence’s 2017 Global Water Tariff Survey.

Water in SA was cheap at R5/m³, said De Lille. “The cheapest desalinated water we could find was for R10/m³.”

Desalination, groundwater abstraction and wastewater treatment are the main plans involved in the city’s augmentation plans.

Water expert, Anthony Turton, has criticised Cape Town’s strategy of reducing demand.

He said it would be economically unwise to ration visitors to the city over the upcoming tourism season. “The economic return on [a] unit of water is bigger than if we have the constraints of telling them to have no bath, and [not to] flush the loo.”

CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy, said that because many Capetonians were going away for the holidays, large industries would shut down for the period would “minimise the impact of visitor arrivals on our water resources”.

Photography Unsplash

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