When we started our #DefeatDayZero campaign less than a month ago, the prospects of success were considerably more remote than they are today.
Since then the residents of Cape Town have banded together and made great sacrifices to lower their daily water usage and help to Defeat Day Zero.
I am proud that just a few weeks later we are on our way to pushing Day Zero further back. I want to personally thank every single resident who has played their part in this regard.
Due to the efforts of Capetonians, Day Zero has been pushed back for the second time, and this time by nearly a month, from 12 April 2018 to 11 May 2018.
Our dam levels are currently at 25.5%. Over the past 7 days, the City has consumed an average of 547 million litres per day, which is a marked improvement from last week.
However, this is still 97 million litres more than the 450 million litres per day target we need to reach - and maintain – in order to defeat Day Zero altogether.
We cannot afford to lose momentum now – we must keep going. Day Zero is still a very real possibility if we take our focus off of saving water.
While Day Zero has moved out by four weeks, the current level 6B water restrictions stay in place, meaning all Capetonians must therefore continue to use no more than 50 litres per person per day to stave off Day Zero.
Supplying the Agricultural Sector
A significant contributing factor to pushing out Day Zero further has been the steady decline in water usage by the agricultural sector.
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. At present, the sector has consumed approximately 90% of its allocation. This means that in the coming months, the demand on the Western Cape Supply System by the agricultural sector will drop significantly, if not altogether.
It is important that the national department sticks to these allocations, and does not exceed them, which would impinge on the remaining dam water available to the City.
The level of consumption remains higher than the 450 million litres per day target we need to reach. Therefore, the City has introduced several “demand management” techniques to further reduce usage and help us collectively defeat Day Zero.
The first of these is pressure management, which lowers consumption by reducing the rate and intensity at which water flows to taps, as well as reducing the risk of leaks and pipe bursts.
The City has begun in earnest implementing pressure reduction across zones throughout the City. This may at times lead to interrupted water supply for people living in high-lying areas or in high-rise apartments, and especially in these initial weeks while the City experiments with the ideal pressure for different areas.
Residents should always report if they have no water at all, since this is the only way the work teams can know to increase pressure to that area.
As inconvenient as this is, it is necessary if we are to defeat Day Zero.
Other demand management interventions include:
- The introduction of level 6B tariffs from 1 February 2018, which in effect means that the more you use, the more it costs. It must be made clear that all revenue from such tariffs is allocated to spending on water infrastructure and new augmentation projects.
- Household flow regulators: The city has been installing water management devices to manage consumption. The programme has been dramatically ramped up to households who have not reduced consumption. In many cases this was due to undetected leaks, but under level 6 restrictions, these will be installed in all households where consumption is higher than 10.5 kilolitres/month.
While the only way to defeat Day Zero in the absence of considerable rainfall is to reduce consumption, we are also increasing water supply through a number of new projects. I have personally visited several of these sites, and significant progress is being made.
There are currently three desalination plants in the pipeline, which together will add approximately 16 million litres of water per day into the system by May 2018.
The Strandfontein plant is on track to supply its first water in March 2018 – and will add 7 million litres of water per day.
The plant at Monwabisi will add 7 million litres of water per day, and will reach full production by May 2018.
Lastly, the plant at the V&A Waterfront will add 2 million litres of water per day, and is on track to go online as early as the end of this month.
Three ground water abstraction aquifers will at their peak supply almost 150 million litres of water per day to the City. An update on each is as follows.
The Cape Flats aquifer is on track, with drilling commencing last month. This will ramp up to 83 million litres of water per day from June 2018.
The aquifer at Atlantis is already producing 5 million litres per day, with a further 20 million litres of water per day to supply between May and October 2018.
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 of water per day.
Water re-use plants
There are currently five water re-use plants underway, which are medium to long term projects. These plants will collectively add 125 million litres per day of water to the supply system by the end of 2021.
The water re-use plants are located at Zandvliet, the Cape Flats, Macassar, Potsdam and Athlone. By June this year, these will supply 20 million litres of water per day to the City.
Lastly, we have secured a transfer of approximately 10,000 m3 of water that will be transferred from a large dam on the Palmiet River over the next 120 days.
You will have seen footage by now of the first of this water being released yesterday, and all of us sent up a shout of joy at those pictures. We thank the farmers of the region for giving of their excess water to help Cape Town in its time of need.
Day Zero still remains a possibility, and defeating it will require a collective effort from all of us – households, businesses, and all three spheres of government.
Every day we push Day Zero back, is a day closer to defeating it in its entirety. We have shown again this week that it is possible. We’ve brought down consumption, and we’ve pushed back Day Zero.
Thank you, Capetonians, and all others who have contributed and assisted in your own creative and inspiring ways.
Let’s keep up the momentum and defeat Day Zero!