Plan for when taps run dry

2017-10-17 06:01

A task team has been set up to plan in the event of the Far South running out of water due to the drought.

The task team will help with the planning of water resilience as well as the eventual distribution of water to households via tankers, if the dams run dry, says subcouncil chairperson Felicity Purchase.

“We are going to start a survey of businesses in the area of how they have planned to deal with water shortages to keep their doors open. We are plotting all well points and boreholes registered in the area, to determine how best to spread the resource. We are trying to map all possible assets we can use already in the area, such as water tankers, ice plants, water filtration plants and desalination plants. We are insuring that all services make use of alternatives for water consumption which includes the fire service, roads department and contractors, already where possible.”

The subcouncil is doing water education in different areas to help in reducing current water use, Purchase says.

“The expected rains have not been forthcoming and it would be irresponsible of us to not prepare now for the worst. The reality is that the City of Cape Town plan will need to be rolled out and my fear is the perennial one of us being at the other end of the mountain chain and therefore possibly not the main priority. I have disaster risk specialists and professional people assisting and would be happy to have specialised input,” she says.

“We are looking at potential gaps, where perhaps we should be sinking additional boreholes close to communities. We are also looking for private sponsorship where necessary. We will also be encouraging people to become as independent of the City’s water as far as possible to allow for those who can’t do so to receive for longer. That means to drive down consumption as much as we can to push out day zero into next winter, when we should again get rain.”

Watch’s takeThe Sun Valley Eco Watch as also urging residents to take steps to prepare in the event that dams run dry by developing their own water resilience plans.

“The last thing we need is the sort of panic and desperation that could arise if the taps actually did run dry. At this point, water saving, such as short showers, bottles in cisterns and using grey water for gardening, will not help if there’s no water in the taps. Waiting around and queuing for a water truck would not be very appealing either. Therefore it is important for each suburb to consider its options,” the organisation says in a statement.

The organisation has called on residents to harvest rain water in tanks or adapt swimming pools to freshwater dams (eco-pools). Well points are also an option for residents, the watch says, as well as boreholes.

“Neither of the ground water options should be seen as infinite resources and extreme caution needs to be exercised to avoid the possibility of seawater intrusion,” the statement reads.

Modest desalination solutions that can provide a few liters of water a day are also available for homes, the statement says.

“It is unwise for us to simply wait to be delivered through the City’s efforts. We should work locally on our own preparedness, gathering data about how much non-municipal water is available in each community, not only for our own residents, but in case we are required to share with neighbouring, less fortunate communities.”

The City’s augmentation supply will start to come online in December and two temporary land-based desalination plants have been commissioned, Purchase explains.

“We can no longer sit back and wait for something magic to happen. We need to be proactive in preparing ourselves here in the south peninsula. We are developing a protocol within our line departments which will allow the fire department, a 24/7 service to hold maps of the water supply systems so that they can then know how to turn off water supplies to areas where there are leaks or burst pipes.”

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