STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR PATRICIA DE LILLE
Note to editors: The following speech will be delivered by Mayor Patricia de Lille this evening at the briefing to the business sector on the water crisis hosted at the GreenCape offices. Read more below:
Good evening, goeie naand, molweni, as-salaam alaikum, shalom.
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to what is a very important meeting for me as we engage more proactively with the business sector in our city in particular on the issue of water.
The water crisis impacts on our everyday lives and it has a huge impact on your operations and in turn the economy.
I would like to start by thanking the businesses here tonight for working with the City to use water more sparingly.
Our collective saving efforts along with the residents has stretched our water resources so far but we are heading for trying times as we are already in May and we have yet to see the spells of continual rain which we are accustomed to at this time of the year.
But climate change means there is no more normal – we have seen that the rains will not come as it used to with our lowest rainfall on record in 100 years over the past two winters.
With the drastic changes in weather patterns there has to be a drastic change in our behaviour and water use.
We simply have to do more on an ongoing basis to address climate change and preserve our water resources while also looking at alternative means of sourcing drinking water.
As many of you may know, the City has adopted the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) to become a more proactive, responsive and customer centric administration.
One of the ODTP priorities is to enhance resource-efficiency and security.
We are currently reviewing our 30-year water plan to give greater consideration to climate change so that we can to see a shift where Cape Town will become a water-sensitive city.
The review is being done in conjunction with the water resource planning unit of the National Water and Sanitation Department where we are interacting with various role players to advance and place more focus on the mix of alternative water sources; to increase the proportion of non-surface water as rapidly as possible; and in that way reduce the dependency on resources that are influenced by climate change.
Moving towards becoming a water sensitive city means managing all urban water (stormwater, groundwater, rivers and treated wastewater effluent) in an integrated way, with the ultimate aim of being able to use these as sources of drinking water.
During this time of drought, we have the opportunity to fundamentally improve resource efficiencies in our local economy, whether it is water, energy, waste or biodiversity.
In managing the water crisis, we acknowledge that we cannot work in isolation and engaging with key sectors such as yourselves is crucial.
Earlier this year, I engaged with some businesses on their water use to appeal to them to work with us to save more water.
The response was overwhelming with many businesses displaying a positive attitude to working with the City and for that I thank them.
I would like to share some of the feedback I received from businesses on what they are doing to save water so that other businesses can learn from this and implement similar initiatives.
The Tsogo Sun hotel group introduced several measures to save water at the Cullinan hotel while the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) have also shared how many other hotels and the hospitality businesses are saving water.
At the Cullinan, they have installed aerators and flow restrictors on taps as well as low pressure heads on showers. Staff members are also constantly monitoring water usage against certain targets through dashboards.
The frequency of replacing linen and towels has been reduced, and several campaigns are being waged to create awareness among guests and staff about the water problems in the area.
In measuring the impact of these initiatives, the Cullinan hotel reported that while their year-on-year occupancy for a three-month period increased by 8,8 %, their water consumption for the same period has reduced by 3%.
The Tsogo Sun group, like the City, has endorsed and shared the Cape Argus ‘Drip Drop’ song which can be used as a fun way of keeping showers to two and a half minutes. This has been shared by hundreds of thousands of social media users.
Another big company, the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) reported the following to me: they run water campaigns, have indigenous landscaping, are using low flush sensors in their bathrooms, and all car washes use recycled water.
Some of their long-term plans include rainwater harvesting, on-site water recycling, and treatment of recycled water.
I know there are many other companies, among which SAB who is here tonight, that have implemented a range of successful water efficiency practices and would like to encourage all businesses to replicate these initiatives so that we can make an even greater impact.
As of yesterday, our dam levels are at 22 % and with the last 10 % of a dam’s water mostly not being useable, dam levels are effectively at 12 %.
The latest consumption has jumped up again to 720 million litres, which is 120 million litres over the consumption target of 600 million litres.
We have been communicating extensively on our response to the drought crisis and our campaign against leaks will be stepped up even further.
We have been engaging with some of the top water consumers and we have seen that leaks on private property are a major cause of avoidable high consumption.
In our own operations, we have reduced water losses to under 15 %. We will reduce this even further to between 10 % and 5 %.
We are committed to reducing these losses substantially over the medium-term in line with our water conservation efforts which have been recognised internationally.
We have also made an additional R22 million available for our first line response teams who are sent out to attend to water faults reported to our call centre.
Approximately 75 additional staff members have been employed to improve our response time to water complaints.
These teams are able to identify the problem, do some repairs and/or isolate the leak and call in the appropriate level of response to do major repairs.
The additional staff members are also deployed to deal with the water management device complaints and faults.
We are now also calling on residents and businesses to stop using municipal water for all outside use such as watering gardens or filing up pools and that those who are able to do so invest in greywater and rainwater harvesting, among others, for all non-potable uses.
Similarly, the City is also looking at ways to create a greater culture of water harvesting in all of our operations.
The City continues to accelerate its emergency water schemes in accordance with the disaster declaration. This includes:
· Emergency drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer, with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
· A small-scale desalination package plant, located along Cape Town’s north-western coastline, with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
· Intensifying the City’s Pressure Management and Water Demand Management Programmes to further reduce water demand
In the event that there is another winter of below average rainfall, the City will be expanding and accelerating the abovementioned emergency schemes even further.
The capital costs of the emergency schemes are currently estimated at R315 million over three financial years (2016/’17 to 2018/’19).
The exploratory phase of a pilot project for the extraction of water from the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) is expected to commence by the end of June 2017.
At this stage the foreseen yield is approximately two million litres per day. This is because we are taking a precautionary approach to determine the sustainable yield of the TMGA and to prevent over-abstraction and environmental damage.
The City is also continuing with extensive pressure reduction programmes to reduce the flow of water and water losses through leakage in the pipework of the distribution system.
The regulation of supply is under way in the central, southern and eastern suburbs and within the next week it will be expanded to the northern suburbs.
Stricter water restrictions, moving to level 4 could also be on the cards soon, subject to due process and approval by Council.
We are in an unprecedented drought and this is going to become a long-term issue which requires us to act now and to act quickly.
In closing, from our side, we are doing our best and we are committed to working with you all to do even more to manage water demand.
We manage a large and complex water and waste water system with multiple considerations and challenges and we need your help to manage the crisis effectively.
This is the first of similar engagements we are planning with other members of the business sector and we have meetings planned with the Cape Chamber of Commerce, Fedhasa, the South African Property Owners Association and Accelerate Cape Town.
I look forward to hearing even more ideas on water efficiency and hope that all sectors can learn from their peers on how to be great water saving ambassadors.
Once again thank you for all you have done so far, baie dankie, enkosi. Let us continue to make progress possible together.