PICS | Cape Town dams full for first time since 2014

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Steenbras Lower Dam Wall in September 2020
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall in September 2020
City of Cape Town
  • The City of Cape Town has recorded full dams for the first time since 2014.
  • The increased levels are in part due to water savings by residents, as rainfall for the year was only slightly above average.
  • The City is currently undertaking consultations on tariffs and restrictions for the upcoming hydrological year.

Cape Town has recorded full dams for the first time in six years.

According to the City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg, dams from which the city takes its water supply have filled to the 100% mark for the first time since 2014.

At the beginning of 2018, the City of Cape Town and its four million residents faced running out of water completely, triggering the severe domestic consumption restrictions and the development of a "Day Zero" plan to dispense daily water rations at various public sites.

WATCH | Theewaterskloof Dam near full - Western Cape's water and sanitation dept

The City reduced demand by 55% between 2015 and 2018, without resorting to intermittent supply – something that has since been internationally lauded, with the International Water Association naming Cape Town the world’s number 1 water saving city.

This low consumption had contributed, along with healthy rainfall, to the water levels in dams, said Limberg.

"Without this intensive water saving by residents, however, our position would not be quite as secure. Full dams may give the impression that our troubles are over, but rainfall this year was only just above average," she said.

Steenbras Lower Dam Wall
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall 2018
Supplied City of Cape Town
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall in September 2020
Supplied City of Cape Town
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall in 2018.
Supplied City of Cape Town
Steenbras Lower Dam Wall
Steenbras Lower Dam in September 2020.
Supplied City of Cape Town
Theewaterskloof Dam
Theewaterskloof Dam in 2018
Supplied City of Cape Town
Theewaterskloof Dam
Theewaterskloof Dam in September 2020
Supplied City of Cape Town
Theewaterskloof Dam
Theewaterskloof Dam in 2018
Supplied City of Cape Town
Theewaterskloof Dam
Theewaterskloof Dam in September 2020
Supplied City of Cape Town

Tackling tariffs

The City is currently in consultations around appropriate tariffs and restrictions for the 2020/21 hydrological year (1 November to 31 October).

"Tariffs are currently on the second lowest level possible in terms of the City’s 2020/21 budget and have come down significantly since the peak of the drought. The no restriction, water-wise tariff which is under consideration will provide some relief, but with due cognisance of the importance that sufficient funding is available to continue increasing our resilience" said Limberg.

Also being taken into consideration is the projected increase of the proportion of residents needing indigent support, in part due to the deteriorated national economic climate.

READ HERE | Water-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay hits Day Zero

"A financially unsustainable water supply system will ultimately hurt the next generation. The drought made it clear that it is necessary for the City to go above and beyond its Constitutional mandate to build water security by investing in alternative water supply sources," she said.

"This prioritisation of water security/resilience is the principle that underpins the water tariffs. The City assures residents that no profit is budgeted for from the sale of water. Tariffs are set only to cover costs of our water service, including investing in new water sources." 

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