Everything you need to know about Cape Town’s water rationing

#DayZero cape town water rationing marcelo jorge vieira flickr

While Cape Town’s dam levels are up over last week, water consumption is down, and October rainfall has been promising, the City has announced that water rationing will continue.

In a statement published on Monday, the City of Cape Town outlined its water rationing programme in more detail.

Due to the critical nature of available water supply, all water users across the metro must expect water rationing which could lead to water supply disruptions,” the City alerted.

How is water rationed?

It explained that the city is divided into numerous “pressure zones”.

Pressure which controls the rate of flow of water is managed by manually or remotely manipulating pressure valves in the reticulation network,” it added.

“The City has been using pressure reduction to force consumption down and is now applying advance pressure reduction. As per the water restrictions, the City is supply water according to the required level (sic).

“If more water is used than what is supplied, outages could be experienced,” it continued.

These possible outages may affect higher-lying areas more frequently than low-lying areas due to the reduced pressure.

In instances of steep slopes or double-storey buildings local to an area, this reduction in pressure is likely to cause constraints.

Once supply stabilises to below Level 5 water restriction limitations, “service will be restored”.

The City also claims that “if an area is using above the daily water limit, rationing through advance pressure management will continue until the limit is reached”.

Is water rationing like load-shedding?

The City of Cape Town explains that “unlike load-shedding where areas were switched off and on for a two-hour period, pressure management is introduced and remains active in an area all the time.”

Due to these fluctuations in demand, the City is also unable to provide “advance timetables”.

The City will, however, provide as much information as possible relating to areas to be rationed approximately 24 hours ahead of time,” it added.

When will supply be disrupted?

Supply between 5am-9am, and 5pm-9pm will likely be disrupted “if usage is above the required levels”.

It must be noted that theoretically everyone should have water but that the duration of the outages would depend on the water usage for the area and whether it is within the water restriction levels,” it clarified.

How should Capetonians prepare?

Users should store between five to ten litres of water in their home for drinking purposes in a “cool, dark place away from light”, in addition to drinking water for pets.

If you experience an outage, the City suggests you contact a neighbour “first to see whether it is likely a case of rationing”. It notes that owners of multi-storey buildings should check that roof-storage and booster pumps are operational.

It noted that solar water heaters “are not at risk of damage from low water pressure or short periods of no pressure“.

Moreover, it also suggests these tips:

  • Keep non-drinking water for flushing
  • Do not use the toilet as a dustbin
  • Use one-ply toilet paper to prevent blockages
  • Do not flush wet wipes and sanitary pads
  • “Use hand-sanitiser where possible”
  • Do not shower for more than a minute

What about the City of Cape Town’s water augmentation scheme?

It is foreseen that between 130 and 240 million litres per day will be at some stage of production between December 2017 and May 2018,” said Xanthea Limberg, the City’s Mayco member for water services.

This includes land- and sea-based desalination, water reclamation, and groundwater abstraction projects, if all goes according to plan.”

Feature image: Marcelo Jorge Vieira via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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