The end of the winter rainy season has arrived and limited anticipated summer rainfall period nears, water shortages are intensifying and the call for a disaster plan is perhaps long overdue.

As of Monday, October 2, the useable water left in dams stood at 27.6% as  Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, released the city’s critical water shortages disaster plan this Wednesday.

“If consumption is not reduced to the required levels of 500-million litres of collective usage per day, we are looking at about March 2018 when supply of municipal water would not be available.”

We are already in phase 1 of the 3 phase disaster plan that is known as throttling which is listed below and taken from this news article here.

Cape Town’s Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan - drought western cape

Phase 1 (throttling):

Water rationing is to take place through extreme pressure reduction. This is to stretch the water supply in dams.

– Some areas will be affected by water supply disruptions for short periods of time;
– Water users will be asked to store up to five litres of municipal drinking water, only for essential use. Do not store excessive municipal water;
– Zoned outages likely to occur during peak water usage times in morning and evening;
– Definitive timetables of water outages will not be provided;
– Critical services (clinics and hospitals) will be largely unaffected.

“Cape Town has adopted a scenario called the New Normal where we are no longer only relying on rain water to fill our dams for our water supplies.”

“The difference between Phases 1 and 2 is that in Phase 1 we are rationing the whole system with reduced supply. In Phase 2 we are only keeping a certain portion of the system alive close enough to water collection points. Residents will be able to collect a predefined quantity of drinking water per person per day from these collection sites.”

Phase 2 (disaster):

Residents will be able to collect a predefined quantity of drinking water per person per day from collection points.

– City will more actively assume control of daily water supply;
– Many households and businesses will be unable to access drinking water in their homes and workplaces;
– High-density areas with increased risk of disease and fires, such as most informal settlements, would continue to receive drinking water through normal channels where possible. The same goes for strategic commercial areas and critical services such as hospitals;
– Sewage system will be maintained for health and infrastructure considerations;
– City law enforcement, SA Police Service and SA National Defence Force will be deployed to ensure general safety is maintained throughout the city.

“Phase 3 is the extreme disaster phase.

At this point, the city would be incapable of drawing water from its surface dams in the Western Cape Water Supply System. There would be a limited period in which the city can continue to supply water before complete water system failure.

Non-surface drinking water supplies, sourced from groundwater abstraction from various aquifers and spring water, will be available for drinking purposes only. The city will distribute this drinking water to residents through water distribution points.”

Phase 3 (extreme disaster):

The city will no longer be able to draw water from dams and there is a limited time to supply water before a complete water system failure.

– Emphasis will be on minimising the impact on human life, dignity and property;
– Households and businesses will be unable to access drinking water in their homes and workplaces;
– Non-surface water supply from aquifers and springs will be for drinking only;
– City will distribute this drinking water to residents at distribution points;
– All safety and security parties will be deployed to ensure that general safety is maintained.

On Wednesday, De Lille met with Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Western Cape Environmental Affairs MEC Anton Bredell to discuss the water crisis.