Cape drought: Aquifers to deliver more water as Day Zero beckons

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille says a recent groundwater survey has revealed that aquifers around the city will deliver more water than expected.

The Mayor said this as the drought-stricken city edges closer to Day Zero – a day when taps will be closed and residents will be required to get water from various designated water collection points.

The drought comes after the City, which usually gets a lot of rain during winter, experienced lower than desirable rainfall last year due to the effects of climate change.

Briefing journalists at the Cape Town Civic Centre on Tuesday, the Mayor said at least 150 million litres of water will be delivered per day by the Cape Flats, Table Mountain Group and Atlantis aquifers (underground layer of permeable rock, sediment or soil that yields water).

The survey found that the Cape Flats aquifer will deliver 80 million litres per day, while the Table Mountain and the Atlantis aquifers will deliver 40 million litres and 30 million litres per day respectively.

“Prime locations were identified to abstract more water from these three acquifers.

“Drill rigs will be moved onto sites from this week in the Cape Flats aquifer.

“Importantly, this action to help Cape Town get through drought is based on an environmentally sensitive approach that will ensure sustainable water abstraction, ensuring generations of Capetonians will benefit from this ground water,” she said.

The Mayor said the projects form part of the City’s programme to supply additional water from desalination, water recycling and groundwater abstraction.

Day Zero moved forward to 22 April

The Mayor said, meanwhile, that Day Zero, when taps will be closed, has been moved forward due to the fact that consumption levels remained high. This, she said, meant that residents were still not keeping to the 87 litres of water per person per day that the City has asked residents to adhere to.

“This means that Day Zero has moved forward by a week to 22 April 2018 from 29 April 2018,” she said.

Dam levels dipped to below 30% during the first week of 2018, while water consumption remained above 500 million litres per day.

The total storage has fallen by 1.3% and as of this week, dam levels stood at 29.7%. The city’s water usage per day stands at 578 million litres. Only about 19.7% of water is usable as the last 10% of water cannot easily be abstracted from dams.

The Mayor said level six water restrictions came into effect on New Year’s Day and all households who use more than 10.5 kilolitres per month will have a water management device fitted as part of the city’s commitment to work with residents to avoid Day Zero.

City receives public comments on proposed drought charge

The Mayor said the city has received some 45 000 comments on the proposed drought charge. Residents still have until 15 January 2018 to comment on the proposal.

The charge, the Mayor said, is aimed at raising money to fund several water projects that can potentially avail more water.

This involves projects that can enable the city to get additional water from groundwater through groundwater abstraction.

“This phase of the plan therefore focuses strongly on aquifer projects, the desalination plants at Monwabisi, Strandfontein and the V&A Waterfront, which are all back on track and underway.

“We need to raise money to pay for these projects and more importantly, to maintain our water reticulation system,” Mayor De Lille said. – 

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