When will Cape Town run out of water? This tool imagines the scenarios

cape town theewaterskloof dam levels sa venues flickr

For the second week running, Cape Town’s dam levels have fallen sharply. As summer draws nearer, the City continues to plead with residents to reduce consumption, as it juggles solutions to the crisis.

But taking into account the City’s current consumption rate, the dams’ current storage levels, and the likelihood of augmentation schemes coming online in the new year, when will Cape Town likely run out of water?

It’s a multi-million rand question that UCT CSAG’s “Big Six Monitor” allows users to imagine.

Named after the six largest reservoirs in the Western Cape Water Supply System and created by CSAG’s Piotr Wolski, the monitor factors in currently available information, and allows users to adjust various parameters including dam storage, water usage and augmentation.

uct csag big six monitor

It effectively gives users various scenarios that could impact Cape Town before the winter rains fall in 2018.

Users can visualise data from as early as 2013 on a time series, or individual years. The latter view (above) is an excellent way to see just how little rainfall the region has received in the past three years.

As far as the “business as usual” or reference model goes, at the current rate of consumption, including estimated additional usage from smaller municipalities and agriculture, Cape Town is set to run out of water sometime during April 2018.

However, it should be noted that the Big Six monitor is merely a projection tool that factors in current information from the City’s largest dams and trends based on said information.

Possible summer rainfall, and smaller reservoirs (that make up 0.4% of Cape Town’s supply) are not included in the models.

The City hopes that augmentation schemes set to come online prior to February 2018 and reducing the metro’s overall consumption to 500-million litres per day may ensure that “zero day” is a term Capetonians will never have to use.

Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

On that note, investigate the possible scenarios on UCT CSAG’s website here.

Feature image: Theewaterskloof Dam in 2014, by SA Venues via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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