Green Bond to help with 'new normal' of water shortages

2017-07-13 05:26
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Cape Town – The City of Cape Town should spend some of the R1bn raised in its first Green Bond on installing digital water-use devices in homes, a University of Cape Town (UCT) senior lecturer has suggested.

"We have no electronic dashboard to help us compare day-to-day consumption," Dr Kevin Winter, who is also a leader at the Future Water Institute, said on Wednesday.

The devices would be similar to pre-paid electricity meters and allow people to see how much they use, at a time when water is becoming scarcer and dam levels stay in the red.

Mayor Patricia de Lille declared a local disaster on March 3 due to the water crisis. In its proposal for the Green Bond, the City said the drought was affecting all its services.

Level 4b water restrictions had been introduced, limiting consumption to cooking, drinking, two-minute showers and to flushing toilets only when essential.

The recent rains pushed dam levels to a hopeful 25.2%, but at least 10% of this was unusable. The city's residents were perilously close to dry taps.

Winter believed that although the water crisis was severe, residents had not yet experienced the true hardship of going without water. "We are down to 60L per person per day at home," he observed.

He did not want to see the money being used to build dams. He was not a fan of desalination plants either. His ideas include a dual reticulation system that would use salt water to treat effluent, and close monitoring of the water drawn from the Table Mountain and Cape Flats aquifer.

The City announced earlier that its first Green Bond of R1bn went on auction between 09:00 and 11:00 in a closed bidding process.

Within two hours, 29 investors had offered R4.3bn. Mayoral spokesperson Zara Nicholson said that because it was oversubscribed and limited to the pre-approved R1bn, the City had to choose the bids with the best interest rates.

The money has to be split among pre-approved projects intended to mitigate the effects of climate change and includes investment in an electric bus system.

Councillor Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for finance, said part of the money would go towards financing and refinancing at least nine projects directly related to the city's water management systems.

These included installing zone metering valves to help reduce pressure – a measure the city introduced in some areas to reduce use.

It would be spent on minimising leakages, on installing infrastructure to enable water recycling and re-use, and on replacing old and/or inaccurate water meters.

Councillor Xanthea Limberg, whose portfolio includes water and waste services, warned that due to climate change, residents and visitors had to brace themselves for a long period of water restrictions, even though some rain had fallen. She said the water crisis was not related to population growth in the city, but to climate change.

"The drought we are currently experiencing is the most stubborn in recent history. We need to embrace the fact that water scarcity is the new normal, and all our future planning must accept that we are living in a drought-stricken area," she said.

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

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