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Cape Town City council respond to the water crisis

By Danielle van Wyk

With only 105 days left of water, the dam levels at 20% and the City of Cape Town being declared a disaster area, the City’s residents are up in arms. But what exactly is the City’s plan?

“The local declaration of a disaster is a City prerogative as provided by Section 55 of the Disaster Management Act (57 of 2002). Five other municipalities have already declared local disasters in the Western Cape province,” stated mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, and Energy, councillor Xanthea Limberg.

On 7 March 2017 representatives from the City of Cape Town, Limberg, the Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane and her department, reportedly met to plot a way forward regarding the drought crisis.

“Extraordinary measures and arrangements for dealing with the crisis could now be introduced. For instance, the release of all available resources of the municipality to deal with the disaster and the reprioritisation of the budget. Money could be shifted between directorates to effect emergency repairs and/or procurement. Emergency procurement procedures could also be enacted which would entail, among others, shortening procurement processes. It also means that certain by-laws and emergency regulations could be enacted to deal with a disaster at hand,” added Limberg.

Some of the other outcomes, according to Limberg include:

·The establishment of a restrictions management committee to monitor the achievements of targets by all water users.

· The intensification of water demand and conservation management programmes by municipalities.

·The investigation into other water resources such as groundwater, grey water and rain water harvesting.

·The intensification of restrictions across all water-intensive agricultural activities.

· An early and urgent decision regarding the next augmentation project for the Western Water Supply System. “It has been suggested that the Voëlvlei Augmentation scheme be fast-tracked and if acceptable, to consider implementing this under emergency provisions,” highlighted Limberg.

·Starting engagements with key stakeholders regarding the financing of selected augmentation options.

With a 105 days putting us roughly at the beginning of June, many are of the opinion that this could be too little too late. The City have remained silent, despite being asked, ‘what would happen should we run out of drinkable water?’ For the mean while Cape Town residents have taken it upon themselves to become more conservative with their water usage, as the City continues to urge everyone to stay within restrictions, as every drop counts.

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