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Cape Town’s Day Zero pushed to June
February 15, 2018, 10:55 am

In May 2017 Cape Town only received 6 mm compared with 60 mm in May 2014

Many countries in Africa are facing severe drought and water shortages [Xinhua][/caption]Cape Town’s Day Zero, when the taps run dry and residents have to queue for 25 litres (l) of water each per day, has been pushed out to June from an earlier expected April as residents have cut their consumption and there has been some rain.

The main rainy season is from May to August and if Cape Town gets its long-term average May rainfall of 72 millimetres (mm) then Day Zero will not take place. In May 2017, however, Cape Town only received 6 mm compared with 60 mm in May 2014.

Cape Town has imposed water restrictions (red dotted line in the graph below) from the beginning of 2016, but in general, those restrictions have been exceeded except in the wet winter months, so the restrictions have been progressively tightened.

Cape Town reduced its water use over the past week to an average of 529-million litres a day – the lowest daily consumption achieved to date.
“Over this past weekend, residents consumed just 499-million litres a day, the first time we have achieved the daily target of less than 500-million litres a day,” Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday.

Rain water levels have decreased in recent years

At the start of February, the city moved ahead with the implementation of its level 6B water restrictions and tariffs to limit water use to 50 l per day per person.

Climate change will result in more frequent and severe weather events, increases in temperature in many regions and resulting changes in precipitation patterns. This may result in rainfall in the Western Cape falling by 30% by 2050, even as the city’s population increases it is attracting migrants from other provinces.

The combination of decreasing rainfall and increasing population means there is an urgent need to build more water storage dams in the Western Cape so that economic progress can continue.

This was why the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, said in her keynote speech at the 84th annual conference of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) in Johannesburg in May 2016 that the department was looking at new dams and new water transfer schemes.

“This year’s drought has also opened up our eyes to invest more on water transfer schemes. As a department, we should be able to transfer water from areas of high supply to those under stress when the need arises, thus my department is investigating the possibility of building more of these schemes. We have also commenced with the feasibility study on a project to augment water supply to the City of Cape Town and the surrounding areas,” she said.

The drought is not confined to Cape Town as the Northern Cape, Western Cape and Eastern Cape have already been declared provincial disasters and on February 13 a national drought disaster was declared.

“The reason that I think it would be useful to declare a national state of disaster is because then everything is in place for anything that we need to do that may require us to shortcut certain systems,” Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said.

By Helmo Preuss for The BRICS Post

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