Cape Town Dam Levels at Historic 100.8%

The Mother City has come a long way since Day Zero. The dams supplying Cape Town with water are at an historic 100.8%, and are full for the first time since 2014.

The latest dam level reading shows that levels increased by 1.3% to 100.8% in the last week. The fullest dams are Theewaterskloof at 101.7%, Steenbras Lower at 101% and Berg River at 100.7%. The remaining major dams are just under 100%.

This time last year, dams were 81.4% full, in 2018 they were 75.9% full and in 2017, an astounding 37.7% full. Theewaterskloof, the Western Cape’s largest source of water, is currently overflowing. Three years ago the very same dam was at 12.9% full, and Cape Town was days away from being the first city in the world to run out of potable water.

On October 2, the City announced that the dams have reached 100% capacity, thanks to an intensive whole-of-society effort to protect our available water supply before, during and after the shock of Day Zero.

“It is clear that as a society we have completely changed our relationship with water,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg. “The City’s water saving achievements have been internationally lauded, with the International Water Association naming Cape Town the world’s number 1 water saving city for reducing demand by 55% between 2015 and 2018 without resorting to intermittent supply.”

However, Limberg warns that this exciting milestone does not indicate permanent water security. “Full dams may give the impression that our troubles are over, but rainfall this year was only just above average. Low consumption has also contributed to the recovery of the dams. Although there is some room to relax, we need to remain vigilant that water consumption remains at a water wise level and proceed diligently with additional water sources including groundwater, reuse and desalination as outlined in the City’s Water Strategy,” she said.

She warns that another drought could strike, and last much longer than the one The Mother City battled over the last few years. “Climate change studies undertaken by the City indicate that droughts such as the one we have just experienced will occur more often and last longer.”

On the question of easing water tariffs, Limberg adds that appropriate tariffs and restrictions for the 2020/21 hydrological year (which runs from November 1 to October 31) are currently taking place. “Tariffs are currently on the second lowest level possible in terms of the City’s 2020/21 Budget, and have come down significantly since the peak of the drought. The no restriction, water-wise tariff which is under consideration will provide some relief, but with due cognisance of the importance that sufficient funding is available to continue increasing our resilience. “Also being taken into consideration is the projected increase of the proportion of residents needing indigent support, in part due to the deteriorated national economic climate.”

Read the dam report here: Dam Levels October 5


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

New Level 6B Water Restrictions in Cape Town

Cape Town will be under Level 6B water restrictions from 1 February, as the city closes in on Day Zero, when taps are set to shut down.

The new restrictions limit usage to 50 liters per person per day – in contrast to the current allowance of 86 liters. Level 6B will be in place for a number of months, before the City of Cape Town considers lifting them.

Cape Town is in the middle of its summer months, and rainfall is very infrequent. Dam levels are critical, and the city is not meeting its current usage targets.

Under Level 6B restrictions borehole and wellpoint water usage is discouraged, filling up of pools is not permitted, and washing of cars can only be done using recycled water. Households using more than 6000 liters per month will face fines.

The City is currently having desalination plants build at 3 sites around Cape Town, to help augment the water supply, beginning in February. A collaborative report from researchers at numerous South African universities released recently stated that there will be dangerous levels of E.coli and Staph in the desalinated water, as the process only removes salt. The City will need to implement special filtration systems in order to remove these pathogens, and make the water safe to drink. The City has not yet commented on doing so, apart from stating that the water will meet national standards. Currently, these national standards do not, by law, require the removal of the pathogens.

The new plan is for households that use up to 6‚000 litres of water a month‚ currently paying R28.44‚ to pay R145.98 instead — though Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said she would push to exempt them from the punitive tariffs.

For those who use up to 10‚500 litres‚ the bill will rise from R109.50 to R390.82. Households that use up to 20‚000 litres will see their bill rise from R361.06 to R1‚536.25; up to 35‚000 litres‚ up from R1‚050.04 to R6‚939.57; and up to 50‚000 litres‚ up from R2‚888.81 to R20‚619.57. de Lille stated that provision will be made for households larger than four people to ensure that they are not unfairly penalised.

Dam levels are currently at 26.5%, and Cape Town is using over 600 million liters of water a day. The new target is 27% below that.

Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, stated yesterday that she had written to President Jacob Zuma, requesting that a national disaster be declared, after the likelihood of Day Zero was confirmed by the City of Cape Town. On the same day, she attended a meeting at the provincial disaster management headquarters to discuss preparation for, and management of, Day Zero and its aftermath, and stated that there is no precedent anywhere in the world for this kind of disaster.

Day Zero is currently said to be 21 April, with 200 water collection sites planned to be set up around the city should the taps be shut off.

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.


Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4]. Image source: [2].