For Mboweni's growth plan to succeed the ANC has to give up certain dogmatic positions that were formulated when 7% growth was the status quo, writes Adriaan Basson.
The Lowe Steenbras Dam last year. (Netwerk24)
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On 15 August 2017 dam levels serving Cape Town were at 31%
of capacity compared to 57% last year, 72% in 2015 and 101% in 2014. Meanwhile,
consumption is still 100 million litres a day above the daily target of 500
The reason we are at a critical moment in making it through
to the next rainy season is that based on the probable increase over the
remainder of this winter and spring of around 5%, we will only get to a maximum
of 36%. Even if we have unusual rains going forward that get us to 40% of
capacity, we still have a problem because 10% is too dirty to qualify as
potable water. The effective maximum is therefore 30% in an optimistic
Looking back over the last few years, we have used about 40%
of the overall capacity of the dams during the summer season. However, this was
when the city’s consumption was above 800 million litres per day. At present
consumption levels around 600 million litres per day, the dams would logically
fall by 30% in the coming dry season which would make it touch-and-go as to
whether the taps would run dry.
Hence, the necessity for the extra savings to be achieved
right now in order to have some leeway in the next six months while the city
lays the foundation for a sustainable water strategy in the long term.
In terms of the three short term scenarios I have offered in
previous bulletins, Nature’s Gift, whereby the problem is resolved through
abnormal rainfall in the next two months, is looking increasingly unlikely.
So we are left with Liquid Gold where the citizens of Cape
Town collectively change their attitude to water consumption as do the tourists
and all the industries in the vicinity. Innovative ways to increase supply
temporarily or permanently are also implemented as is more recycling and the
wider use of grey water.
Alternatively, we drift into Dire Straits where serious
emergency measures are taken which inevitably lead to inconvenient disruption
of people’s lives in order to ward off the worst possibility of no water at
all. Water pressures have to be dropped considerably.
The wheel is spinning in terms of which of these two last
scenarios will come into play but the most important flags to watch to decide
between the two are the weekly figures on water consumption and the weekly dam
capacity levels based on rainfall patterns.
Obviously, a green flag in favour of Liquid Gold would be
the announcement of any measures which will increase municipal supply in a
matter of weeks or months to get us through the crisis.
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