Slow with the flow: Cape Town residents urged to reduce water consumption as load shedding bites

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Theewaterskloof Dam supplies Cape Town with water.
Theewaterskloof Dam supplies Cape Town with water.
PHOTO: Duncan Alfreds, News24
  • Cape Town residents are being urged to use water sparingly.
  • This as water use in the metro is rising to pre-drought levels.
  • The City of Cape Town wants residents and businesses to use less than 850 million litres daily. 

The City of Cape Town is urging residents to use less water as high stages of load shedding are having an impact on water supply operations.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis is urging residents and businesses to collectively use less than 850 million litres of water daily. 

"Staying within this target will help us maintain supply during sustained high stages of load shedding and put us in a better position next summer if we again have below-average winter rainfall," he said. 

The City warned that sustained high stages of load shedding impacted its ability to build up reserves in its reservoirs and reticulated drinking water.

READ | City of Cape Town warns of water supply limitations caused by load shedding

"Residents can help us avoid or limit these risks by using less water this summer.

"The dams supplying Cape Town are losing, on average, about 2% of our total dam capacity per week. This past week, we have used 949 million litres daily. This is 99 million litres daily over the collective use target," Hill-Lewis said.

He added that Cape Town’s dams were still above 50%, but its models showed dam levels would drop below 50% by the end of summer "if we don't meet the proactive water savings target".

Hill-Lewis said:

This may increase the need for water restrictions down the line, which we would ideally want to avoid.

Over the weekend, Eskom implemented Stage 4 load shedding until further notice.

"Since Saturday, a generating unit each at Camden, Grootvlei, Lethabo and Majuba power stations suffered breakdowns and are undergoing repairs, while a unit each at Kriel and Lethabo power stations were returned to service," the power utility said.

What the City is doing to help: 

  • The City will continue to reduce water wastage through programmes such as leak detection, annual pipe replacement, and pressure management.
  • The City is investing in bringing online the New Water Programme, which will see an investment of about R5 billion over the next eight years.
  • The City will introduce 300MLD (million litres per day) of new water by 2030 from diverse sources that will help protect from the worst effects of future droughts.
  • The Table Mountain Group Aquifer has already delivered its first water in 2020, and the first groundwater to be injected into the supply network from the Cape Flats Aquifer is expected toward the middle of 2023.
  • The City is targeting a 55 billion litre annual reduction of water losses by ramping up alien vegetation clearing.
  • The City’s R50 million investment in the next two years will be matched by private donations, and is set to up clearing efforts to 9 000 hectares per year from the current 1 250ha in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

What can residents do to help?


  • Find and fix leaks. High water use could mean you have an undetected, expensive leak. Check your meter regularly to identify leaks, and get them fixed quickly. See the City’s simple guides to help.
  • Don’t flush in a rush. Only flush when necessary and do not use your toilet as a dustbin. New or replaced toilet cisterns may not exceed six litres for each flush.
  • Take short, stop-start showers or small baths. The maximum flow rate of new and replaced showerheads may not exceed seven litres.
  • Wash more with less, for laundry and dishes. Only wash clothes and dishes (pots, cups, etc) when really needed. Wait for a full load before using washing machines and dishwashers. Hand washing and spot-cleaning can use less water.
  • Turn off taps when not using the flow. For example, use a cup for shaving and brushing your teeth. 


  • Close the hose when washing the car. Hosepipes for washing vehicles, boats and caravans must be fitted with an automatic self-closing device. Stop-start your spray as you need it or bucket-wash your car or vehicle.
  • Stop-start and slow your spray. Use a controlling device at the end of the hose, like a sprayer (nozzle) or automatic self-closing device.
  • Beat the heat loss. Only water before 09:00 or after 18:00 to avoid evaporation losses.
  • Keep summer fun water wise. Supervise very careful use of water for children’s play, and cooling in hot summer months. For example, use a wet cloth to cool down hot skin, and avoid wasteful spraying of water.
  • Swim, cover, save, repeat. Built-in and fold-away pools must be covered when not in use, to prevent up to 95% of evaporation losses. Recycle the backwash, and top up with rainwater or alternative water where possible.

      The acting member of the mayoral committee for water and sanitation, councillor Siseko Mbandezi, said reducing water usage was the responsible step to take, both in terms of load shedding disruptions, and in case "we again have below-average winter rainfall".

      "Capetonians can help by reducing outdoor water use, such as watering gardens, filling or topping up pools, and following the permanent water use regulations. Together, we can achieve a water-wise Cape Town," added Mbandezi.

      We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
      In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
      Subscribe to News24
      Show Comments ()
      Voting Booth
      Do you think the EFF’s shutdown on Monday was successful?
      Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
      No, it was mild and missed the mark
      86% - 3386 votes
      Yes, it gripped South Africa’s attention
      14% - 570 votes
      Rand - Dollar
      Rand - Pound
      Rand - Euro
      Rand - Aus dollar
      Rand - Yen
      Brent Crude
      Top 40
      All Share
      Resource 10
      Industrial 25
      Financial 15
      All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
      Editorial feedback and complaints

      Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.