Three aquifers, in the Cape Flats, Table Mountain and Atlantis, which were expected to start pumping out clean water later this month, might not anymore due to theft and vandalism. These aquifers would be able to provide 60-million litres per day when functional.
Two weeks ago Day Zero, the day the taps would be turned off, was pushed back indefinitely because of water saving by residents. The City was prepared with contingency plans in the form of aquifers and later on desalination plants. However, theft and vandalism at the aquifer drilling sites and general water infrastructure has compromised water security.
Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, said in a statement on Sunday, “The City of Cape Town has been informed that theft from aquifer drilling sites is making it difficult for contractors to bring more water online timeously.”
Limberg said the Cape Flats aquifer sites between the airport and Mitchell’s Plain were affected the most and the interference at these sites disrupted crucial work, which resulted in delays that could last for weeks.
“Furthermore, theft of other City infrastructure often results in water running to waste,” she said.
Tools, batteries, vehicles and other material that could have scrap value are being targeted by thieves. Since July 2017, more than R5-million in hydrants, valves and meters have been damaged or stolen from the various aquifer sites and within the city.
Additional alternatives such as private security at aquifer sites are being explored, but these alternatives are something that the City does not yet have in place.
Limberg said the City is relying on assistance from the public to address this issue.
“When communities are vigilant and report vandalism of infrastructure, the infrastructure Capetonians are paying for via rates and tariffs, it not only ensures that more criminals are apprehended but also creates a climate in which it is more difficult for criminals to operate,” she said.
An appeal has been made for anyone who has information about these crimes to report it.
Residents may report vandalism of city infrastructure to 0860-103-089. Members of the public may report metal theft or provide tip-offs to 0800-222-771 or 021-400-2828.