After years of being subjected to stringent water rationing, which saw Capetonians watering their gardens with grey water and taking two-minute showers, residents will soon feel relief after Cape Town this week decided to lift water restrictions.
Mayor Dan Plato announced on Tuesday that the city will lift the water restrictions from November 1 and move to the lowest tariff, being no restriction, after a unanimous decision by the city’s mayoral committee. The city will instead have a water-wise tariff, which has already been approved by the council for next year’s budget.
“The tariff has already been approved by council as part of the set of tariffs for the city’s 2020/21 budget. This lowest tariff will offer residents some financial relief while ensuring we can still provide reliable water services and invest in new water sources. Tariffs are set to cover the cost of providing water and sanitation,” said Plato.
He said the tariff would help with the maintenance of infrastructure and making sure Cape Town is resilient and becomes a water-sensitive city.
The decision to lift water restriction was based on:
- The national government’s lifting restrictions to the Western Cape’s water supply system, and dam levels that had reached 100%.
- Projections indicating dams are unlikely to drop below 50% by next winter. This will allow for water-wise usage, in line with the lowest tariff.
- City projections also indicating the latest anticipated water usage patterns for the coming summer will be sufficient to allow the lowering of water and sanitation tariffs.
Apart from the dams filling to capacity and beyond in recent weeks, Plato described the lifting of water restrictions as moment to be celebrated because, in a few short years, “we have gone from the worst drought to face our city and a potential water ‘Day Zero’ to full dams and zero water restrictions besides the need to stay water-wise.
“While we need to continue to be mindful of climate uncertainty, residents who feel comfortable enough can begin to relax water saving efforts in good conscience, while being water-wise, due to the significant increase in dam levels. These anticipated movements in the warmer summer months have been factored into the latest anticipated usage patterns for lowering the tariffs from the current second lowest tariff level to the lowest, no restriction, water-wise tariff.”
In 2017 the Western Cape experienced the worst drought with overall rainfall the lowest since records started in 1933.
As part of its water saving efforts, the city banned outdoor and non-essential use of water, including washing of cars. It encouraged the use of grey water for toilet flushing and limited the overall per person water usage to 50-litres per day, or a total consumption of 500m litres per day.