Feb 15, 2019

Cape Town Proposes Water Resiliency Strategy

The new strategy seeks to diversity water sources and avoid another potential Day Zero

Cape Town proposes new plan to combat Day Zero and future drought
Cape Town proposes new plan to combat Day Zero and future drought

The city of Cape Town, South Africa, has proposed a new strategy to increase their water resiliency and avoid possible drought. The plan currently is open for public comment and seeks to diversify the city’s water sources.

In 2018, the city of Cape Town predicted an imminent “Day Zero”–a day the city’s water supply was expected to be so low that taps would need to be shut off. Residents and businesses united in water conservation efforts to stave off the day and it has since been delayed indefinitely. In response, the city now is seeking ways to become more water resilient and diversify their water sources so they are not completely dependent on rain filling reservoirs.

The new proposed strategy combines groundwater, water reuse and desalination in addition to reservoirs. The goal is to increase available water capacity by more than 300 million liters a day, according to News 24. Current water usage is between 600 million to 700 million a day, marking nearly half the water consumption before the 2018 drought and demonstrating Capetonian water conservation dedication.

While the new plan still prioritizes rain-fed dams to provide up to two-thirds of the city’s drinking water, it also incorporates other sources. There will also be new incentives and regulations to limit water usage without introducing punitive tariffs.

“The recent drought was a harsh lesson for us all,” said Councillor Xanthea Limberg. “We have now entered a time characterized by uncertainty, where previous models for weather predictions and associated planning can no longer be relied upon.”

Furthermore, the city seeks to become a water-sensitive city by 2020. Beyond identifying new water sources, the plan aims to cleanup existing ones. It includes examining over-allocation of water allowances, the removal of alien vegetation from catchment area, and stresses being mindful of pollutants disposed of in the water system.

“The reality is that investments to strengthen our resilience and reliability of supply will increase the cost of water,” Limberg said. “Through a pragmatic approach, these increases will be contained and we will not see the extreme price increases that we saw during the drought.”