STATEMENT BY MAYOR DE LILLE: City hosts inter-faith prayers for rain and calls for all hands on deck to manage drought crisis
Good afternoon, goeie midday, molweni, as-salaamu alaikum, shalom.
Thank you all for joining me today in what is a difficult time for Capetonians and the rest of the province as we are in the midst of the worst drought in 100 years.
I have called for prayers today and asked our religious leaders to guide us and their congregants in praying for much-needed rains.
Over the past two winter seasons, Cape Town has experienced way below annual average rainfall as we feel the harsh impacts of climate change.
We are a water-scarce region and we know that there is not enough rain predicted for the winter rainy season which we are usually accustomed to at this time of year.
Since the beginning of the year, I have been instructing our Water Management Department to move our medium- to long-term plans forward and expand these plans as we need solutions right now.
We are now moving to Level 4 restrictions and we have set a daily overall collective usage target of 600 million litres.
We have yet to meet this target, but the abnormal hot weather at this time of the year has meant that we are also losing water due evaporation.
We must do more as residents, businesses and government departments to reduce our consumption by drastically changing our behaviour.
The only way we can make an impact is by breaking out of the business-as-usual mind-set because we are in a crisis.
The Level 4 water restrictions mean that, among others, all garden watering is prohibited and no topping up swimming pools is allowed.
This week, our dam level storage stands at 20,7%. With the last 10% of the water mostly being unusable, dam levels are effectively at 10,7%.
We are now asking all residents to bring their water consumption down to 100 litres per person, per day.
This is possible if we only use water for essential bathing, drinking and cooking.
Over the past few months, we have been proactively engaging with residents and businesses.
I have personally visited some of the high consumption households asking them to drastically reduce their consumption immediately and repair any leaks on their properties.
I have also met with the business sector and personally called some of those businesses identified as high consumers and they have committed to working with us to conserve water.
I must thank Capetonians for bringing down their consumption, but we still need to do a lot more.
In terms of other interventions, we are stepping up our response to water leaks and complaints by allocating R22 million to employ additional staff. These staff members are able to repair leaks and attend to water management device faults. Approximately 75 additional staff members have been employed to improve our response times to water complaints.
We are also continuing large-scale pressure reduction programmes across Cape Town to force down consumption.
Other emergency interventions are under way and as dam levels decline, the City will start to implement a lifeline supply which entails reducing the water pressure to a very low level across the metro.
The City is currently expanding emergency water supply schemes which include:
• emergency drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA), with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day and expanding that to a yield of 10 million litres per day
• a small-scale desalination package plant with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day and expanding it to an additional 2 million litres per day
• a small-scale water re-use for drinking use plant, with a yield of 10 million litres per day
• drilling and expanding a well field into the Cape Flats Aquifer, with a combined yield of 5 million litres per day
The capital costs of the emergency schemes amount to R315 million. The City’s Water Management Department will be funding these projects primarily via internal reprioritisation.
In mid-June, we are also hosting an exhibition where we have invited companies with innovative water savings solutions to showcase their ideas to the public at the Canal Walk shopping mall.
The exhibition will include solutions and ideas for residents and businesses to help them save more water.
Finally, I have convened a task team to expedite our response to this crisis.
We are going to need all hands on deck. As I have called on residents and businesses to work with us, I am also calling to religious leaders to help us and pray for rain.
I communicated to the senior executive management team in the City this week that no expense will be spared to manage the crisis and ensure water supply, so too will no stakeholder be spared and we are committed to working with all sectors and all residents to make sure that we preserve our water supply, but also find new solutions.
The City has appointed a Chief Resilience Officer who is working with a range of experts in Cape Town and internationally by drawing from expertise and solutions used in other cities where they have successfully addressed drought.
I have asked that people are freed up from their other duties in the City to focus solely on water.
I want to assure Capetonians that we are doing everything we can and it is being done with the greatest measure of urgency.
I am appealing to all residents again to please change their mind-sets and water behaviour. Things simply cannot go on as normal as drought will become the new normal and we have to adapt because we will all suffer if there is no water.
We can only save water while we still have water to be saved.
Thank you once again to all the religious leaders for coming out to pray today and I ask that the prayers for rain continue each day and every time you gather your congregants.
Thank you, baie dankie, enkosi, shukran.