Cape Town’s dam levels are nearing 70% of storage capacity due to good rainfall at the beginning of winter and the phenomenal conservation efforts of Capetonians. Water restrictions and the associated tariffs are thus to be conservatively lowered in the interim to Level 5 from 1 October 2018.
This will bring tariff relief of between 26,6% and 70% per kilolitre of water depending on the usage and tariff category.
The water usage target will be increased from 50 litres to 70 litres per person per day and the daily collective consumption target will increase by 50 million litres to 500 million litres to ensure that water conservation efforts remain in place.
The Western Cape Water Supply System’s dams are now at 68% capacity, a very significant improvement on the situation at the end of the previous winter, when they were at 38% capacity. This was during a drought so uncommon that it only has an estimated return period of 311 years.
The very low supply storage resulted in the imposition of Level 6B water restrictions in February 2018. The enormously positive response from Capetonians when called upon to reduce water usage, as well as advanced pressure and water management programmes by the City, saved the day and Cape Town avoided the worst-case scenario.
Once dam capacity again exceeded 50% at the beginning of July 2018, the City called for a discussion with the National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) around the relaxation of restrictions. Since then, two meetings have been held with the other large users in the system, both urban and agricultural, and the DWS. Agreement was reached among the users for a gradual reduction in the overall restrictions, including reducing the urban usage restriction from 45% to 40% of what it would normally be allocated.
Rainfall remains highly variable, and while May and June saw rainfall close to that of an average year, July had very poor rainfall. This improved somewhat in August and so far in September the positive trend continues.
The relaxation of restrictions is a moderate proposal that is based on a hydrological risk assessment that indicates that it is safe to do so at the level of risk that is agreed upon. Of course, the amended Level 5 restriction guidelines for water usage will apply and we are confident that the significant behavioural change that we’ve seen pertaining to water conservation will prevail to a large extent.
The DWS undertook to respond by 31 August 2018, but have yet to do so. It appears that the DWS is reluctant to make any adjustments before the end of the hydrological year at the end of October 2018, when assessments are usually made.
The City believes, with the full support of the other catchment users such as other municipalities and the agricultural sector, that an interim adjustment is fully justified and appropriate at this stage.
The City will thus move from the current Level 6B restricts to Level 5 restrictions as from 1 October 2018. A further reassessment of future adjustments will be made once the DWS makes a ruling for the new hydrological year or advises on an interim relaxation.
The key elements of Level 5 restrictions are as follows:
- An increase in the personal water use limit from 50 litres per person per day to 70 litres per person per day
- A resetting of the overall City water usage target from 450 million litres per day to 500 million litres per day
- A relaxation of restrictions for commercial and industrial water users from a 45% to a 40% usage reduction
- A lowering of tariffs to Level 5 tariffs