National government provides support for Western Cape drought

Friday, March 9, 2018

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister Pamela Tshwete says the national department has been providing support to the City of Cape Town during what has been its worst drought in years.

The Deputy Minister said this when Members of Parliament debated the impact the current drought in the Western Cape, particularly Cape Town, has had on the country.

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane announced that Day Zero – the day on which the city will close the taps and residents will have to collect water from central points – was not likely to happen in 2018.

“There is this untrue narrative about the City of Cape Town not receiving assistance from national government. This is inaccurate.

“The Department of Water and Sanitation, through its Western Cape office, serves not just the City of Cape Town but the whole province. The drought is not just localised but provincial; exactly the same as what has happened in other provinces,” she said.

The Deputy Minister said the province has received assistance through the work of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Drought.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has also availed one of its top managers to be part of the City of Cape Town’s advisory committee that keeps the city up to date on all matters related to the drought on a weekly basis.

The Deputy Minister told Members of Parliament the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had, through a letter dated 22 August 2017, allocated several amounts for drought relief in the Western Cape, including:

  • R20,8 million to the City of Cape Town;
  • R10,9 million to the Bitou Local Municipality;
  • R3,1 million to the Theewaterskloof Local Municipality;
  • On the 25 September 2017 a further R40 million was allocated to the Department of Agriculture for animal feed.

“The total sum allocated to the Western Cape therefore totalled R74.8 million,” she said.

In providing support to the Western Cape, and Cape Town in particular, the Department of Water and Sanitation has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the City of Cape Town. Borehole positions have been established on the Department of Water and Sanitation’s premises in the Theewaterskloof Dam basin and the department has assigned additional staff to compliment the maintenance team.

Also, the department has assisted in the management of Cape Town’s systems dams through the application of restrictions which were recently increased. Restrictions on domestic and industrial use increased from 40% to 45% and agricultural use increased from 50% to 60%.

Following meetings with the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, a directive was issued to Umgeni Water on 11 December 2017 to procure a 10 million litres per day plant as an emergency intervention for City of Cape Town.

“The procurement process has been concluded. Despite the City of Cape Town wanting the project to be delayed in order to find an alternate site for the plant, we continue with preparation for implementation,” she said.

The department has recently provided support to provinces heavily impacted by drought, including KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Free State, North West and the Northern Cape. –

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