In 10 years Cape Town’s population has rocketed from 2,9m to 3,7m and it will hit 4,4m in 2020. What is not growing is the city’s already precarious water supply.
“Even in a year of normal rainfall our dams are being drawn down faster than they are filling,” says Jeremy Taylor, founder of water conservation specialist Water Rhapsody. Sharing his view, Peter Johnstone of the University of Cape Town’s Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSA G) warns: “Water supply is falling below demand.”
This, says Taylor, is evident in the level of Cape Town’s six dams, which have fallen despite a 17% increase in total capacity created by the new Berg River Dam in 2009.
The six dams, reports the City of Cape Town, stood at 57,4% of combined capacity on March 19, down from 74% of five dams four years earlier. Dam levels are falling by almost 2%/week as the Western Cape faces its second year of below-average winter rainfall.
“Until the end of May and even into June it appears that the Western Cape will get very little rain,” says Johnstone. The CSAG’s forecast indicates that in March, April and May, rainfall will be 50%-80% of average, while June will see 80%-100% of average.
“Forecasts are tricky, but so far this year, our prediction of below-average rainfall has been accurate,” says Johnstone. He adds that the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research’s Western Cape rainfall forecast to June is in line with the CSAG’s. “If there is no rain by the end of March, the city must act swiftly to curb water use,” he says . Continue reading