Western Cape water supply takes strain

2011-06-13 20:05

Cape Town - The rapidly growing populations of Cape Town and surrounding towns are putting big strain on the Western Cape's water supply, water affairs warned on Monday.

The margin between available water and that used was about 8% (45 000 000m³) of safe supply, the department said in a statement, issued following the release of its latest water reconciliation strategy for the region.

According to projections contained in the report - which covers the six-month period up to March this year - this margin could be "fully utilised" within the next six to eight years.

"Population growth and the subsequent growth in the economy have been identified as major factors that are placing exponential strain on the water available for users of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS)."

The department said users included the City of Cape Town, as well as the municipalities of Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Swartland and Saldanha, together with agricultural users.

"At present, the system can safely provide 556 000 000m³ a year. The 2010 water requirement on the system was already 511 000 000m³, of which 32% was used by the irrigation farmers and 68% by the urban dwellers supplied by the system.

"According to projections, the remaining 45 000 000m³ will be fully utilised anywhere between 2017 and 2019, depending on the growth in the area and the city's... further successful implementation of its water conservation and water demand management programme."


The department called on Cape Town residents to use water more sparingly.

"Without the support of the residents, the City of Cape Town would not have secure water resources," it said.

Building more big dams was not feasible.

"According to the study, only a few surface water development options are available for augmenting water supply to the City of Cape Town and surrounding towns."

However, the department was exploring alternative strategies to ensure sufficient water was available for future use.

These included "planning on going out on tender for a feasibility study of a large-scale sea water desalination plant" within the next month.

"The study will determine the most appropriate location and size for such a plant," the department said.

The city also planned to do a feasibility study into the large-scale re-use of water, which would start within the next few months.

"[Other] investigations by the city, into the potential for large-scale ground water development and utilising the Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifer as a sustainable water resource, are also underway.

"A decision on the implementation of a pilot wellfield development in the TMG will be taken by the city in the next couple of months."

Increasingly urgent

The department was also looking at two surface water options.

One involved pumping winter rainfall run-off water from the Berg River into the Voelvlei Dam; the other, diverting water from the Dwars River in Michell's Pass, near Ceres, into the same dam.

The department said the eradication of invasive alien plants along the Western Cape's river courses was becoming "increasingly urgent".

"Each property owner along the rivers feeding into our dams and below the dams must begin to take responsibility for ensuring that their properties are clear of these water-thirsty plants."

While augmentation of the WCWSS was receiving high-level attention, it was important to realise that all such interventions would take "many years" to deliver.

"The efficient use of the current supplies, including the curbing of water wastage and water losses, is of critical importance.

"All water-users in the system are called upon to use their water judiciously in support of the city's water conservation programme," the department said.

Serious implications

In December last year, water affairs' Western Cape chief director, Rashid Khan, told Sapa that Cape Town would need to review its water-use strategy due to the "quite large numbers of people coming in" to the metropole and surrounding areas.

He said at the time that assumptions made by Cape Town's water planners in 2007 were "now being overtaken by some serious developments, that is [population] growth".

Khan also noted that the effects of climate change, if severe, could bring forward the construction of augmentation projects.

In this regard, climate forecasts for the next few decades do not bode well for the region's water supply.

According to a 2005 department of agriculture report, the Western Cape "is likely to become warmer and drier over time... [with] reduced water in the rivers".

Also in December last year, water affairs said any increase in demand for water had serious implications, "as the next augmentation project may well have to be fast-tracked to ensure an adequate supply of water to every city, town and industry that gets its water from the WCWSS".

According to City of Cape Town statistics, "migration growth" is about 16 000 households a year, compared to the city's "natural growth" rate of 11 000.

Working on an estimated five people per household, this means the city's population is growing by about 135 000 people a year, of whom about 80 000 are migrants.

  • Kyle - 2011-06-13 20:14

    It seems like us Capetonians are gonna have to leave cause I'm sure the "immigrants" are here to stay.

      Johan - 2011-06-13 20:41

      And then jimmy manyi will come strolling along and say: "No eet ees not the migrints who are too meny, eet ees the coloureds who are too meny".

      VADERLAND - 2011-06-14 04:54

      No need for anybody to leave if we all use water sparingly

  • SimonCT - 2011-06-13 20:47

    so what is the acceptable amount of water used per day ?

  • thetruth - 2011-06-13 21:03

    @ Kyle & Johan everything with u guys got to do with colour...this portrays u'r intelligence,and the racists u are...these are the mentalities that breed more JULIUS MALEMAS...seeing comments like these,i sometimes wonder if MALEMA is a blessing...

      Doublepost - 2011-06-13 21:14

      The biggest racists in this country have always been blacks. Their population war drives the rest of the country to extinction. And when the rest demand that protection be put in place to protect their very right to exist in this world, blacks cry "racism". Give it a rest! You wouldn't know the real TRUTH if it smacked you around like a bouncer at a night club! Cape Town cannot manage the influx of people that are streaming in to take advantage of a DA run municipality. They vote ANC in their areas and then run when the Sh!t hits the fan to a properly run city placing more strain on an already over stressed and unfunded area! Migration should stop immediately, fix your own yard first, stop screwing around with others, bringing your incompetence with you! Go AWAY!

      S knot - 2011-06-13 21:20

      The truth I AM a flippen coloured so I appreciate what Joahn says. And did jimmy say that YES OR NO!!!! STUFF YOU MAN YOU F#CKING IDIOT!!!

      freedom - 2011-06-13 21:25

      oh juliaaas eish des lotsa water by my house, da taps I have dey give water all da time.Da bladdy agents they must be wasting da water in Cape Town.

      VADERLAND - 2011-06-14 04:57

      It's amazing how a topic under discussion in this forum can turn into a race debate, when the topic has nothing to do with it

  • thetruth - 2011-06-13 21:21

    @ DoublePost but then consider that u and your ppl centuries ago killed the natives and stole their u want to make decisions for them and like apartheid allow who you feel can live in the w cape...but then again u'r colonialist forefathers did that all over the world

      Doublepost - 2011-06-13 21:42

      Oh frek! Not this nonsense again. Whites didn't steal anything. Whites owners of land today PAID for it! They have the title deeds to prove it! They also landed in the Western Cape way before blacks and in fact only saw blacks for the first time in South Africa after 1770 AD, almost 120 years after first settling in the Cape! The greatest killer in South Africa's history was none other than Shaka Zulu! Read on the subject of the Dfecane! Don't come with your bull here! Most of the land Whites settled was either traded for or not occupied at all. Most of the Western half of the country cannot even support large populations without proper irrigation, dams and wind-pumps for boreholes and thus was only inhabitable with large numbers when Whites started using it! Whites have given the world the greatest leap of technological and educational advancement in its entire history! The very tool you are using now is a WHITE invention! Go take your ANC propaganda K@K and stick it up your an@s! Your spelling and use of K@k SMS language, shows your lack of intelligence and the level of brain washing that you have received at the hands of your Masters! Go climb a tree!

  • Oompie - 2011-06-13 21:33

    If any WC decision makers read comments like these: As an environmentalist and agricultural researcher: please start with plants to recycle water TODAY, as in the long run it is the most sustainable way of keeping up with the growing demand. Yes, cleaning water for re-use is expensive, but it will get more and more expensive every year, so start NOW. Pumping water from the Berg river to Voelvlei dam is not on - from below Wellington the water is too polluted with agricultural chemicals and that water should not end up in Voelvlei. Water from Dwarsrivier would be much more sustainable. Only problem is that the time to pump water into voelvlei is in the late summer when the dam level is low, but then the rivers are also dry. By the time the rivers are full then the dam is also filling up fast from its natural sources - in other words, when you have water to divert to Voelvlei (or any other dam in the WC) then there is not much capacity left in the dam, as it is already filling up from its own sources. Not enough is known about the TMG to use its aquifer as a major water source at this stage. . . . perhaps we should start to seriously start snipping tubes (males and females) to curb population growth . . .

  • thetruth - 2011-06-13 21:53 partisan racists...why do u not put my last comment up

  • thetruth - 2011-06-13 22:01

    soory Doublepost i use sony(japanese),and microsoft senior programmers are all Indians...and by the way 95% of all apple parts are manufactured by samsung,d..ckhead...and u only read apartheid and western propoganda that makes u believe that blacks did not inhabit the w cape...u gullible fool...the greatest killers of all time were u'r colonialist brothers,HITLER,SHARON,NETANYAHU,BUSH,BLAIR...THEY HAVE THE BLOOD OF MILLIONS ON THEIR HANDS...AND U TELL US YOUR PROPOGANDIST CRAP...AS FOR TECHNOLOGY, AGAIN U GUYS STEAL 4RM THE INDIANS,JAPANESE,CHINESE AND THE EAST...THEFT IS IN THE BLOOD OF U'R PPL

      Doublepost - 2011-06-13 22:14

      I suggest you seek help, you're a helplessly deluded individual with a lot of hang ups. You need to get that sorted out before you do something you might regret.

      VADERLAND - 2011-06-14 05:10

      @thetruth you are a brainless chimp with a serious chip on your shoulder

  • thetruth - 2011-06-13 22:47

    do independent research...learn to question...don't be a gullible fool...most ,not all,i reitterate not all, of u'r white brothers on these sought of forums believe everything they hear...they feel u've got to be patriotic to u'r white skin...take of those flippin blindfolds and u'll appreciate the truth...but arguing with u still convinces me u'r a FOOL

      Boiling Frog - 2011-06-14 02:07

      What truth are you talking about that should be appreciated.Say what you want to say instead of talking in riddles.You're not making much sense right now.

  • To The Point - 2011-06-13 23:38

    South Africa has become the new home of millions fleeing their countries as a result their failed "democracies" and corrupt greedy leaders who have turned their once prosperous countries into ghettos, run by violence, crime, corruption and fear. Therefore, the problem with lack of water and housing will only worsen with the free for all illegal migration system this government allows. Soon South Africa will have no food to feed its people,if water is a problem now wait and see the misery in five years from now. Eventually the whole of South Africa will be one big Hillbrow before it becomes a Zimbabwe. I know some stupid person will turn this into a racial issue saying it was written by another pessimistic "white" - well for your information I am as black as the ace of spades. No matter what colour you are we will all suffer because of illegal migration,failed land distribution that does not work and corrupt management of the country. Look north and see the result of these failed policies. Wake up people, see beyond colour, and start seeing the truth.

      thetruth - 2011-06-14 00:10

      @ To The Point totally agree with what u say...i do question the issue of the influx of foreigners to our shores,but then lets not make these racial issues like some of the participants in these forums do ...they usually have a field day when criticising blacks and the anc...yes,do criticise individuals for their faults,but not entire races and parties,cos not all party members are corrupt,lazy,gravy train passengers etc...but then also consider the real assylum seekers fleeing wars and persecution in their countries...these are genuine reasons...and also those who are starving will do anything to support themselves and their families...yes,presently we are the land of milk and honey in africa,and put yourself in the shoes of a genuine assylum seeker and i can guess what you would do...I do appreciate your mature and intelligent response fhough

      Boiling Frog - 2011-06-14 02:32

      I absolutely agree with you. However at what point are the real South African people with true bread and butter issues going to adress TPTB that we need to address the economic issues of our own people and force TPTB to address the problems in Zimbabwe and elsewhere to counteract this influx of refugees.

  • Glennm - 2011-06-14 02:12

    We have a shortage of water article which turns out to be a political racist debate. Eish!!!. I work at sea and we make our own water. It tastes okay. So if the desalination plant gets approved it will help a lot. You can build a pipeline from the plant to the dams and keep them topped up and also at the same time create jobs and lesson poverty. So Mrs Zille and De Lille now is the time to prove your worth.

      Doublepost - 2011-06-14 18:21

      It would actually work but would require extensive use of other energies to run the desalination plants. Which would increase the price of petrol and so forth! It would also only be a long-term solution as these things take time to construct and are quite expensive, so in the short to medium-term other solutions are required. Since they cannot tell the migrants to get the F OUT! They have to place the burden on the people who have a right to be here and thus we are now all required to save water! This is exactly what freebies bring. If everything is free it will get used by everyone until there is none left to be used by anyone! Supply and Demand! Simple, simple, simple and yet seems to be lost on the vast majority of people in this country.

  • ajmeiring - 2011-06-14 08:16

    This is an opportunity not to repeat Eskoms mistakes. You know in advance, do something about it. There is a lot of ocean that can be desalinated for example.

  • Reader - 2011-06-14 09:49

    close the borders for a change you idiots!

  • Bernard Linde - 2011-06-15 13:29

    Well that's what you get for advertising your province with the slogan "a Home for All"... ;-)

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