Concern over Cape Town weather

2018-11-22 14:50

New concerns have arisen over whether the City of Cape Town will weather the coming dry season with adequate water supplies.

Civic action group Dear Cape Town, last week expressed their concern over the sudden drop of water augmentation levels as indicated on the weekly water report published by the City every Monday.

According to this water report it is evident that water augmentation levels dropped from almost 50Ml per day to a very low 25Ml per day, said Sandra Dickson from Dear Cape Town, speaking to TygerBurger at her office in Brackenfell.

Dickson and her collueges have been keeping a very close eye on the weekly water reports.

“Along with this almost non-existent water augmentation, the current situation of the large water draw down by agriculture and our dam levels dropping by 1% per week in our six major dams during the past three weeks, can land us back to where we were a year ago,” she says.

“It is clear by doing some calculations that agriculture has been taking up their water quotas since 25 October 2018 and that water draw down from the six major dams more than doubled as a result. Some people in the agriculture sector are seriously lobbying to have their water supply restored entirely,” she says adding that if this is the case, it is crucial to know what is the City is doing to protect the public's water supply in Cape Town.

“This issue concerns every person that lives in the City of Cape Town and in the quest for transparency the City has to provide logical answers,” she says.

Having been made aware of the little activity at Monwabisi and Strandfontein desalination plants, TygerBurger three weeks ago asked the City whether these plants were shut and requested a media tour to the plants. We also asked why?

This request was immediately refused, with the explanation that because the operations itself are not owned by the City, the owners of the plants do not always have the capacity to host site visits as the sites are subject to health and safety legislation.

“Therefore, we go according to what the owners of the plants are able to do at a given time. As you know, you are very welcome to go to the (public parking) adjacent to the sites (from where it is visible),” the City’s media offices advised.

And on Monday executive Mayor Ian Neilson stated that the water augmentation levels declined from 50Ml to 25Ml, due to high levels of turbidity at sea (murkiness).

He said neither of the plants were shut down and are both still operational, but that full production was hindered from 5 November and onwards due to the turbidity levels.

However, doubt was created when Dickson received a different answer from Michael John Webster the City’s director of Water and Sanitation, on Friday.

He stated: “The temporary desalination plants at Strandfontein and Monwabisi were not operational from 1 November to 8 November due to very high turbidity levels in the sea. This would have caused problems in the treatment process and hence the plants were shutdown.”

“Due to the disparity in these statements and the confusion it creates, we would like to see record of how often plants are being shut down for this reason and how this affects the operation,” Dickson responded.

“Desalination seems not to be reliable – what if a huge plant producing say 50% of our water has to be shut down for an entire week? My conclusion is that the City are charging us these high tariffs and we are getting literally nothing in return.”

Neilson said a new draft Water Strategy will be presented to members of the public in the new year for full public oversight and input.

But Dickson remains inconvinced.

“It is good that public participaion is being done, but this only after almost two years and billions or Rand already spent on water augmentation?

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