Cape Town water in danger of running dry

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.

Appeals to save water, and a ban on watering gardens between 10am and 4pm is making little difference

“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

Residents urged to conserve water

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 18 Nov 2011

Capetonians could face stricter water restrictions as dam levels hit a four-year low.

Save good quality drinking water - use grey water for irrigation

Low-level restrictions are already in place including a ban on watering gardens between 10am and 4pm.

Adding to the low dam levels, rainfall this year has also been below average.

A UCT climatologist said of the past 10 months, eight had had below-average rainfall. May, June and July, usually the wettest months, were “drier than normal”.

Climate models showed this situation was likely to become more common in the years ahead and it could drive up the price of water.

Residents were being urged to conserve water. This appeal comes as climate change is expected to lead to rising temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns.

The City of Cape Town’s water department was due to meet the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on Wednesday but has not released any details.

The city’s draft annual report says 19 percent of water was “unaccounted for”. This term refers to the difference in the amount of water purchased and in the city’s distribution system, compared with the amount which is sold to customers. Continue reading

Cape Town contemplates water restrictions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14 Nov 2011

The City of Cape Town has warned its residents they are likely to face water restrictions in the coming 12 months after poor rainfalls this year.

Mayoral committee member for utility services Shehaam Sims said people in and around the city would have to carefully control how much water they used in the coming dry season.

“We had good rains this year, but they came mostly out of the wet season when the temperatures had warmed up,” Sims said.

“There was a lot of evaporation as a result and now the Western Cape dams are at 86 percent capacity, compared to 93 percent last year.”

Sims said Capetonians tended to use up every drop of water allocated to them by the water affairs department. A meeting between the city, the department and other water bodies would be held next week to decide on whether to impose summer water restrictions or not.

“Last year we were allocated a capacity of 1090 megalitres per day,” Sims said.

“Cape Town uses about 920 megalitres. We are quite close to the allocation.”

Sims said residents in the city should try to save water by reducing their shower time, only flush toilets when necessary and repairing leaks. She asked people to report leaks in public areas to the city on 0860-103-089.

– Sapa

Cape Town drought may bring water restrictions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 17 Aug 2011

Cape Town may be subjected to water restrictions this summer because August and September are likely to be drier than usual, a climate researcher has warned.

Predicted below average rainfall will bring water restrictions

Peter Johnston, of UCT’s Climate Systems Analysis Group, said there was no need for desperate concern just yet – but this could change if no more winter rain fell.

Traditionally, the province’s dams are full in August and September. However, Johnston said, after the driest July in years, and with below average rainfall predicted for this and next month, water restrictions could become necessary.

The provincial government has urged farmers to store water for the summer months.

Johnston’s colleague, Mark Tadross, said a high pressure system over the Atlantic Ocean was keeping storms away from the Western Cape. “We don’t know why (this is happening),” said Tadross. “Of concern is that the dams are well below what they should be (at) this time of the year.”

The regional manager for weather services in the Western and Northern Cape, Antarctica and islands, Johan Stander, said the forecast was dry for the next couple of months. “Because of climate change, adverse conditions will happen more frequently and storms will be more severe.”

Wouter Kriel, the spokesman for Agriculture, and Rural Development MEC Gerrit van Rensburg said:

“We are monitoring the rainfall, but there are no red flags yet. We are advising farmers to fill up their water storage facilities.”

Source: IOL

Cape Town on brink of water restrictions

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 01 Aug 2011

A University of Cape Town climatologist on Monday warned that the Mother City’s water situation is critical.

Using grey water for irrigation

Recent figures indicate Cape Town received about 20 millimetres of rainfall in July. That is well below the month’s average figure of 140 millimetres.

Dams are currently at about 70 percent capacity, but climatologist Peter Johnstone said if it does not rain soon, dams may run dry by summer.

Johnstone said it may become necessary to impose strict water restrictions.

“After September the rainfall gets very low and if it comes to October, November, December with very little rain, we start using a lot of water, then we find that our dams are running at 30 percent full and that is very, very risky…”

He added, “At that sort of levels we are going to have very strict water restrictions.”

Farmers are also battling.

Chief Executive Officer of Agri Wes-Cape, Carl Opperman, said they are desperate for more rain.

“The rain that we received last week was not enough, but it was basically just enough to tick us over the critical phase that was busy developing. We are looking for some more rain,” he said.

By: Rafiq Wagiet
Source: Eye witness news