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Drought crisis: we must all be watch-dogs

Dam storage levels are now at 19,6%. With the last 10% of a dam’s water mostly not being useable, dam levels are effectively at 9,6%. Disappointingly, consumption remains at 648 million litres per day, which is 48 million litres above the consumption target. Read more below:

While there is some rain predicted for this week, we need continuous rainfall over many weeks for our dam levels to reach sufficient levels. The City of Cape Town therefore appeals to residents and businesses to keep up water-saving measures and not to relax their efforts. The need to meet our water usage targets is becoming ever more pressing as we cannot be sure when we will get rains again, with the impacts of climate change being harshly felt in terms of reduced annual average rainfall.

For those who are looking to reduce their water consumption in innovative ways, the City will be running an expo at Canal Walk to showcase water-saving technologies from 10 – 11 June 2017. All residents who want to explore ways in which they can conserve water are encouraged to attend.

With the passing of Level 4 water restrictions, all outdoor use of drinking water has been banned. However, this on its own will not result in us meeting consumption targets. To meet our savings goals, we need every resident to limit their water use to no more than 100 litres per day. Those who exceed this target do so at the expense of other residents. We can only save water while we still have water to be saved and we need all residents to realise that this crisis can only be managed properly if everyone plays their part and reduces their consumption.

As such, the City has been doing its utmost to ensure that people are held accountable. We have negotiated that the maximum spot fine for a contravention of the City’s water restrictions be raised to R5 000, rising to R10 000 or even a prison sentence for serious or repeat offences, and we are lobbying the courts to provide for more intensive deterrents as our situation worsens. We have also supplemented our forces by drawing on the Expanded Public Works Programme. Thus far, 276 notices of contravention and 205 notices to appear in court have been issued.

Fines can be issued for the following offences under Level 4 restrictions:
· Irrigation or watering with municipal drinking water
· Topping up private swimming pools, even if they have a cover
· Washing vehicles and boats with municipal water (commercial car washes may apply for an exemption which will only be granted if wash water is recycled or waterless products are used)
· Running a water feature
· Hosing down of paved surfaces with municipal drinking water
· Using a portable play pool

In addition, approximately 25 000 water demand management devices have been installed since July 2016. This is a continuation of a long-running programme to ensure that every home in Cape Town is supplied via a meter that can be set to limit consumption if necessary. The programme has been instrumental in extending available water supplies well into winter, and will continue to play a key role in increasing the City’s water resilience.

‘While enforcement gives teeth to the water restrictions, the City supplies water to more than 4 million people, and providing constant oversight of each customer to ensure that consumption remains below 100 litres per day is simply not possible. I am therefore today calling on residents to take a more active role, either by reporting those who contravene the restrictions, or calling out their friends, colleagues and family members who are not behaving with 100 litres in mind,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

Residents who would like to report a contravention can do so by sending an email to water@capetown.gov.za. Any evidence that could assist with the investigation should please be attached. Those who are fined will be named and shamed.

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