Dam project fast-tracked to tackle Cape Town water crisis

2018-01-13 10:00
(File)

(File)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town – Plans to increase water supply to the Voëlvlei Dam, scheduled to come on stream in 2024, have been fast-tracked to 2019 to help with Cape Town’s water crisis, GroundUp reported on Friday.

Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the Department of Water Affairs, told GroundUp that Minister Nomvula Mokonyane had said the project should be accelerated and that it would be underway by 2019.

The scheme involves pumping winter rainfall from the Berg River into the dam.

The National Water and Sanitation Management Plan, published in draft form by the department in December 2017, says that the Voëlvlei project is one of a handful of "projects of national importance" and is set for "urgent implementation". As the country’s second economic hub, Cape Town "is already in deficit" and the project is "already overdue", the plan notes.

Though much attention has been focused on the City of Cape Town’s attempts to manage the water crisis, in terms of the Water Act of 1998, the national government is the "public trustee" of the nation’s water resources and must ensure that water is "protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner, for the benefit of all persons".

"The National Government, acting through the Minister, has the power to regulate the use, flow and control of all water in the Republic," according to the Act.

'Intervention plans'

Ratau said that, as well as the Voëlvlei Dam project, the following measures were being put in place by the department:

  • Monitoring heavy water users;
  • Contact with the Borehole Water Association of South Africa to raise awareness about the drought within the association;
  • The department is on emergency standby to urgently implement dredge canals in the Voëlvlei Dam, in order to access the last 10% of water that cannot be used at the moment.

Asked what the department would do if Cape Town should run out of water at the end of April 2018, as estimated by the City, Ratau said that "we are not at Day Zero" and that the date was just a projection.

But, he said, the department had put "intervention plans" in place. He didn’t explain what these plans were.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said this week that, because water consumption was "too high" over the holiday period, Day Zero had been moved from April 29 to April 22, 2018. (Interestingly, the City’s Day Zero estimate corresponds precisely to the one predicted by UCT researcher Piotr Wolski’s online tool.)

Ratau told GroundUp that the department was working with both the provincial government and municipalities affected by the drought and water crisis, because "this is not a national department issue alone".

The City is in "constant touch with the department", confirmed Peter Flower, director for Water and Sanitation in the City of Cape Town.

Waiting for minister's budget speech

Flower explained to GroundUp that, usually at this time of year, the city used up to 200 million litres daily from the Voëlvlei Dam, but because of the drought, only ten million litres were being taken off. Voëlvlei is Cape Town’s second biggest dam, while Theewaterskloof is the largest. Together they make up over 70% of the city’s water supply. Their current levels are 20.6% and 16.8% respectively, compared to 49.5% and 39.2% last year.

Total dam levels are at 29.7%, according to the City’s webpage, but the last 10% or so is difficult to use. The city’s overall water usage last week was 578 million litres a day (approximately a further 665 million litres daily are used by agriculture, and about 65 million daily are used by other Western Cape municipalities in the Cape Town catchment area).

Asked if the department would provide additional funding to the City and local municipalities affected by the drought and water crisis, Ratau said the department would wait for Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s budget speech to hear how much money the department would be allocated.

"We don’t know what the budget would be," Ratau told GroundUp. He said this was "not just about the Western Cape"; other provinces would also need more funding to help with the drought.

The provincial government has estimated that the Western Cape will need an extra R542m to help areas affected by the drought.

Read more on:    cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water restrictions
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Cluster Financial Manager

Cape Town
Network Finance
R950 000.00 - R1 000 000.00 Per Year

SQL Reporter

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Reporting Accountant

Cape Town
Network Finance Professional / Prudential
R310 000.00 - R360 000.00 Per Year

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.