'Day Zero' pushed back as Cape Town responds to water crisis

Desalination

'Day Zero' pushed back as Cape Town responds to water crisis

The City of Cape Town has no legal power to supply farmers with more water.

Wesgro CEO Tim Harris echoed Ntshona's sentiments, saying that, including local tourists, while visitors made up only 2.4% of the population, this small number of visiting residents sustained 300 000 jobs and contributed billions of rands to the fiscus.

Day Zero, when taps are projected to run dry, has been moved out by four weeks to May 11, but current level 6B restrictions remain in place meaning Cape Town residents are restricted to 50 litres of water per person per day.

The negative impact of the water crisis was likely to extend to the overall growth of South Africa this year, said Old Mutual Investment Group economic strategist Rian Le Roux.

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It was not just about cutting supply, it was also about increasing supply, said Harris, pointing out that 12% of water supply was now sourced from short-term options, such as desalination, water transfers, spring water and aquifers, besides others.

He said water for the City of Cape Town, surrounding urban towns, as well as the irrigators along the Berg, Eerste and Sonderend Rivers is drawn from the WCWSS, which is a system with a series of dams that serves 3.2 million residents of the area.

City of Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Nielson said Day Zero projections are conservative estimates, a worst case scenario, if consumption is not driven down to target.

On Wednesday, a high-powered delegation of provincial and city officials will seek an assurance from Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane that she will ensure the agricultural sector sticks to its water allocation and does not dip into supplies intended for drought-stricken Cape Town.

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In a possible sign of things to come, security guards have been monitoring a steady flow of cars and people lining up at AB-Inbev's Newlands brewery to get up to 25 litres of free water from a mountain stream on its property. It is the largest of five major dams supplying drinking water to the city.

He said harsher restrictions should have been imposed in November previous year: "We were for many months sitting around 600 mega litres per day.you would have to ask the mayor why she did not institute the level six measures that I have driven and that were adopted by Council".

"Everyone is taking as many steps and measures that they possibly can to try and make sure we don't reach Day Zero", said Gabrielle Bolton, spokeswoman for the five-star Belmond Mount Nelson hotel.

The city is working to stretch its water to June, when heavier rains are expected for the beginning of winter.

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"We have to talk straight to each other, we have to be serious with each other", he said. "Rather than throwing away your empty water bottles, consider donating them to fellow residents who may need containers for their water", she said.

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