Cape Town dam levels reach a milestone not seen for two years

Cape Town's combined dam levels have broken through the 60% mark for the first time since 2016.

The City of Cape Town described Monday's 60.1% mark as "a milestone", adding that the increase would provide a buffer against the dry summer months ahead.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson gave Capetonians a pat on the back for saving water.

"This is a promising development and is due, not only to the rains we have received since May this year, but also due to Capetonians continuing to save water. A very big thank you to all for your efforts and sacrifices," Neilson said.

This time in 2017, the dam levels were 32.4% of storage capacity.

But while the dam levels are slowly creeping up, so is the water consumption of Capetonians.

The total water consumption for Cape Town last week was 527 million litres a day, up from 519 million litres the week before; 505 million litres recorded on August 6 and 498 million litres recorded on July 30.

ALSO READ: Cape Town's July rainfall way below average

The target of 450 million litres a day had never been reached.

Neilson said while last week's 527 million litres consumption rate was higher than the City would have liked, it was still much lower than last year.

He urged residents to continue saving water as they had been doing since February this year.

Although 60% is a better position for water reserves that the City has seen for two years, it still falls within the City's defined "danger zone" for the Western Cape Water Supply System.

Dams would need to reach 65% by the end of the rainy season at the start of October before the City's water storage capacity moves out of the danger zone, according to its dam storage risk scenarios.

Being in the danger zone is a result of less than average winter rainfall, but the risk of system failure – or running out of water – was less likely to happen in the summer ahead once this level has been reached.

However, water demand has to be managed closely while levels are in the danger zone.

Because of the early winter rainfall in May and June, Cape Town has come a long way from the 20% in April/May this year.

This time in 2016, the total storage capacity was 57.7%; in 2015 it was 72.3% and in 2014 it was 101.1%.

July was drier than normal, with one of the lowest rainfalls for July on record. The first half of August was also below normal.

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