Cape Town water crisis: water usage drops, but so does dam levels

water cape town dams

There’s some good news and bad news this week, Cape Town. The good news is that consumption is down across the city. The bad news is that this hasn’t had an impact on dwindling dam levels.

Latest figures issued by the City of Cape Town paints another bleak picture. (See last week’s figures here).

Overall storage is down by 0.4% to 37.4%, even though water consumption dropped by 10-million litres per day (pdf). Consumption though remains 100-million litres per day above the City’s target.

While good rains fells on 14 and 15 October, few dams benefitted.

The Berg River Dam remained at 66.6% full, while the Steenbras Upper (0.1%) and Wemmershoek (1.4%) were the only notable gainers.

cape town dam levels 17 october 2017

The Steenbras Lower Dam, Voëlvlei Dam and the Theewaterskloof Dam, all shed this week. The Theewaterskloof, more notably, lost 0.8% of its total capacity — the equivalent of around 3 841-million litres. At our current consumption rate, that’s enough water to supply Cape Town for a week.

Minor dams also saw fluctuations in spite of the weekend rains. All five dams on Table Mountain, bar the Woodhead Reservoir, remained at last week’s levels or dropped stores. Woodhead however did receive close to 50mm of rain in October thus far.

And speaking of rainfall, only Wemmershoek and Wynberg are close to reaching October’s long-term rainfall average according to the City.

The Theewaterskloof catchment area has received just 11% of its long-term average of 42.9mm for October.

City of Cape Town: desalination still on the cards

In light of this, the City of Cape Town issued a staunch but brief press release, reminding the city’s residents that they’re still using too much water.

The City of Cape Town activated water rationing as part of the implementation of its Critical Water Shortages Management Disaster Plan. This action intensifies the preceding months of pressure management which continues to be done in an attempt to force water consumption down to required levels,” it explains.

In another release, the City’s Xanthea Limberg confirmed that desalination and other procurement projects have not been shelved.

“The first tender batch which was issued comprised small-scale temporary containerised desalination plants (with a combined yield of approximately 15-million litres per day) in Hout Bay, Granger Bay and Dido Valley.

“Tenders received were, however, non-responsive. The tenders are being re-advertised and these initiatives have not been cancelled,” she noted.

Andy Walker
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