Capetonians may soon queue for water

Cape Town authorities might have no choice but to throttle water supply if the water situation does not improve
File picture: Gallo Images / Thinkstock

The end — of a steady water supply — is nigh.

With predictions of low rainfall at the start of winter and Cape Town residents not meeting water savings targets‚ authorities might have no choice but to throttle water supply.

In addition‚ some might have to queue for water from tankers when dam levels reach 10% of its storage levels.

“In the event of an absolute worst-case scenario‚ should dams reach below 10% of the storage levels‚ the City will implement ‘lifeline’ water supply‚ which would involve minimal supply pressures‚ intermittent supply‚ and very stringent restrictions‚” said Xanthea Limberg‚ mayoral committee member for informal settlements‚ water and waste services and energy.

“Should we reach a stage of ‘lifeline’ supply‚ some areas in the city which experience very low pressures may be provided with water using water tankers.”

Limberg said consumption patterns and dam levels over the coming weeks will determine whether it will be necessary to go that route.

Earlier this week she confirmed that Level 4 water restrictions could be implemented on June 1.

Level four restrictions would include stringent limits on the use of water outdoors‚ like a ban on watering lawns‚ filling up swimming pools and watering of parks by the municipality.

This comes as experts have ruled out above average rainfall at the start of the winter rainy season and warnings that the city may be in a similar water crisis this time next year.

Limberg said the city would also install devices to limit water consumption to residents‚ even if they have already paid for their water.

Already the city has asked residents to limit their water usage to 100 litres per person per day.

This week‚ despite dam storage being at a meagre 22%‚ Capetonians continued to fail to reach the water savings target.

Kate Turner‚ a forecaster for Weather SA in Cape Town‚ said they are expecting some rain on Thursday.

“For the beginning of our season [the winter season]‚ it will actually be quite dry and below [the] normal rainfall that we expect at the beginning of our winter‚” she said.

However‚ Turner said they are predicting that rainfall will be above normal towards the end of the winter season.
She also could not say if rainfall would be enough to carry Capetonians to next year’s winter.

Dr Peter Johnston‚ a climate scientist from the University of Cape Town (UCT)‚ could not confirm whether it would be a dry winter.

“We have to prepare for the worst and [ask]: ‘What are we going to do if it does not rain as much as we expect?’” he said.

He said‚ in the long term‚ all climate change scenarios suggested it would become hotter and drier — a sign that there would be more water shortages.

“It’s an important thing to realise that we are going to use these options that we are using now to cope with the water shortage. We are going to have to be using them more often it the future‚” he added.

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