Cape Town - Cape Town dam levels are alarmingly low, having fallen some 2% in the last week.
As a result the City of Cape Town says it will be checking its water metering data to target the top 20 000 water users - which it says is not due to tourists or informal settlement consumption.
Tougher action against those who contravene the water restrictions
According to the latest statistics, dam levels have dropped to 40,4% as of Monday, 23 January 2017 as the average consumption continues to be 80 million litres above the targeted 800 million litres of collective usage per day.
"It is clear that many Capetonians are going above and beyond the call of duty to reduce their water consumption. But others have seemingly chosen to ignore all of the conservation efforts, to the detriment of Team Cape Town," says the City.
As a result it is implementing Level 3b water restrictions and will be finalising plans for enforcement and education operations aimed at these users, identified following an examination of the water metering data of the City’s almost one million water customers.
Households still the worst offenders, in excess of 50 kilolitres per day
The city will be conducting door-to-door visits, advising these offenders of punitive measures such as fines for transgressions or the implementation of water restriction devices, "if there isn't a 20% reduction in their usage".
"The vast majority of these high users are households in formal residential areas, and have been identified as consuming 50 kilolitres per month," says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg - as indicated by this graph supplied by the city.
Contrary to what some believe the tourism accommodation sector is not responsible for the massive over-consumption, making up less 7% of the usage, according to the city, that has confirmed it has in fact seen a drop in usage in this sector following the peak December period.
"Prior to the water restrictions coming into effect, the average use per household used to be well under 1 000 litres per day or approximately 30 kilolitres per month. This gives one an idea of the severity of the use of water among these high users,"
The issue of water scarcity is a key focus of Responsible Tourism, says Heidi van de Watt, for the World Responsible Tourism Awards - which this year will be looking to highlight the key sustainable tourism success stories in 2017.
The best establishments can do is rope in the help of guests, she says. "Not everyone is aware of the dire water situation, and by and large, tourists are willing to do their bit - but properties need to make it easy for them."
Responsible Cape Town shared the following example posted by Dongola Guest House. In December the establishment let guests know that in order to stem the serious drought conditions in the Western Cape it had taken the decision to remove all taps from its baths.
Instead of a bath, guests were offered a free wine-tasting at the historic Groot Constantia, located five-minutes away from Dongola.
To add even more tongue-in-cheek cheer to their unique approach to water conservation - the establishment offered the taps back to its guests as a Christmas present, so they could have a bath - for that one day only.
"Not all properties would want to go to this extreme, but it worked for them,"says Van de Watt.
Other initiatives within the tourism sector include Carbon Neutral Table Mountain that has been championing investement in the Kuyasa Housing Project. It says water consumption has been reduced by 5% per visitor since 2014.
"This achievement is predominantly due to increased staff awareness. By educating their green team about the environment, the Cableway gets the water saving message across to visitors," says Cableway’s Marketing Manager Collette van Aswegen.
“Water is a precious resource so sustainable management is something that needs to be at the forefront of people’s thinking,” says Van Aswegen.
Added to this:
- Cableway make use of recycling toilets, which use less water, and have installed waterless urinals
- All toilets are fitted with a dual-flush mechanism
- There are sensor operated and push button taps throughout the facilities
- Cableway have reduced the amount of grey water generated by a massive 1-million litres, by moving the kitchen to the Lower Cable Station and using compostable cups, lids, cutlery and stars in their food and beverage facilities
- Meters have been installed to monitor water usage and the Cableway is also currently the only attraction in South Africa to have a Diamond Heritage rating for sound environmental practices.
The City says it has, over the years, reduced water losses in our overall systems from around 25% in 2009 to below 15% according to the latest data - with a long-term water supply and sustainability vision for 25 to 30 years, the current drought situation has severely impacted this - with reduced consumption key.