Four maps that show the extent of the Cape Town water crisis

2017-03-08 11:06
Johnny Miller / Millefoto

Johnny Miller / Millefoto

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WATCH: Latest aerial shots of three Western Cape dams

2017-03-06 16:16

If dam levels and water consumption trends remain unchanged, Cape Town has roughly 120 days of water left. Conservation photographer Jean Tresfon flew over three of the Western Cape's principal dams to see how dire the water crisis actually is. Watch. WATCH

Cape Town - With around 113 days of usable water left in Cape Town, residents have been urged to perform a leak check on their property to make sure they are not letting excess water (and their money) “run down the drain”.

The City of Cape Town's water by-law prohibits any resident from negligently, purposefully, or wastefully allowing pipes or water fittings to leak.

According to the city, checking for a leak is relatively painless.

“An easy way to establish this is to turn off all water on the property, wait half an hour to ensure the geyser is full, and monitor the meter to check whether consumption continues to increase,” city spokesperson Jean-Marie de Waal says.

If an underground leak is found to be the cause of the increase, the resident may be eligible for an underground leaks rebate. They can explore this option by visiting their nearest municipal cash offices.


The city is responsible for maintaining pipes up until the boundary of privately-owned properties.

Leaks just outside the boundary of private properties would not go through the water meter of a private customer.

“We would be responsible and a customer would not be billed for it. It would go through our water meters. It would be the city’s consumption and hence the city would fix it."

Water leaks are prioritised according to how serious they are, says water and waste services mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg.

When a leak is reported, a small, mobile unit with the capacity to perform minor repairs will first go out and assess the leak. If the first responder can't fix it, repair teams are informed of the priority.

"A large burst can, in a few seconds, let more water run to waste than a slow leak would in a few weeks," explains Limberg.

Depending on the nature of the matter, first responders are generally on site approximately one hour after a situation has been logged and team has been notified and dispatched, she says.

"Again, depending on the nature of the leak, it could be fixed within the same day if it is a straightforward leak without additional processes to consider."

500 call-outs a week

The city deals with an average of at least 500 water-related call-outs over a seven-day period.

Limberg says these call outs could be for leaks bursts, or matters which are related to water but are not leaks or bursts.

In the same period, the city gets more than 300 sanitation related call-outs.

Limberg says an average household should generally be using under about 20 000 litres of water per month. This is dependent on factors such as the size of the household. Heavy consumers use above 50 000 litres per month.

On Monday, it was announced that Capetonians are finally using less than 800 million litres of water per day. Mayor Patricia de Lille declared the city a disaster area on Friday. The declaration allowed the city to invoke emergency water procurement procedures, if needed.

If residents wanted to report water related faults, they can call 0860 103 089 and choose option 2, or SMS 31373 (max 160 characters).

Water restriction offences can be reported to 

Those who cannot afford to access these technologies could use one of the city's free call lines across the metro, or visit their local library to access the city's free internet.

Below are four maps that show the extent of the water crisis:

1. The 100 worst water users in Cape Town

Click on the tap icon to get more details. 

2. Theewaterskloof before and after

Use the sliding tool to compare the two images

Images: Johnny Miller / Millefoto

3. Voelvlei before and after

Images: Johnny Miller / Millefoto

4. Berg River before and after

Images: Johnny Miller / Millefoto

Read more on:    cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis  |  water

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