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Home News Cape Town drought crisis: 18,6% of usable water left
Drought crisis

Cape Town drought crisis: 18,6% of usable water left


Cape Town Drought Crisis: As at 20 March 2017, dam levels have dropped to 28,6 % which is 1,4% down from a week ago. With the last 10% of a dam’s water mostly not being useable, dam levels are effectively at about 18,6 % of usable water with approximately 103 days of useable water left at current consumption levels. Consumption over the past week reached 750 million litres per day of the collective usage target of 700 million litres per day.

The City of Cape Town thanks those consumers who continue to find new ways of saving water but challenges Team Cape Town to see if we can get much closer to the usage target. We simply have to do so.

The Mayoral Committee recommended for noting by Council the declaration of a local state of disaster as a result of the drought. We are in the midst of one of our worst droughts of the past century. Cape Town is in a water-scarce region and is experiencing the impacts of climate change with an increased frequency of drought events.

The two consecutive years of drought have severely reduced stream flows into the dams of the Western Cape Water Supply Scheme (WCWSS). The dams are likely to reach extremely low levels by the onset of the 2017 winter and are unlikely to recover satisfactorily should average to below average rainfall be experienced over this coming winter.

The City’s contingency plans include further intensified restriction measures and the possibility of intermittent supply to conserve available water should dams drop to dangerous level, which would require emergency procurement of additional equipment and involve increased operational expenditure.

As a further mitigation measure in the short- to medium-term, the City intends accelerating its water resource augmentation programme to increase water supplies.

In order to accelerate various small-scale emergency water supply schemes, earlier this month the Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, declared a local state of disaster.

The declaration of a disaster is an essential step to assist in management and control of the current severe drought and resulting water crisis.

Active assistance is required from both Provincial and National governments to manage the situation effectively and to protect the wellbeing of our communities and the economy.

This would include technical assistance, funding and prioritising any regulatory approvals that may be required to implement mitigation measures without delay.

The City is now considering the construction of various small-scale emergency water supply schemes to increase supplies in the short term.

The emergency supply schemes include:

  • Emergency drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
  • A small-scale desalination package plant, located along Cape Town’s north-western coastline with a yield of approximately 2 million litres per day
  • Intensifying the City’s Pressure Management and Water Demand Management programmes to further reduce water demand


In the event that there is another winter of below average rainfall, the City will be expanding the abovementioned emergency schemes and accelerating further schemes as follows:

  • Expanding the emergency TMGA scheme by incrementally adding boreholes for an additional yield of 10 million litres per day
  • Expanding the emergency seawater desalination package plant for an additional yield of 2 million litres per day
  • A small-scale water re-use for drinking use plant with a yield of 10 million litres per day
  • Incrementally drilling and expanding a wellfield into the Cape Flats Aquifer with a combined yield of 5 million litres per day


The capital costs of the emergency schemes are currently estimated at R315 million over three financial years (2016/17 to 2018/19). The City’s Water and Sanitation Department will be funding these projects primarily via internal re-prioritisation.

Residents can contact the City via email to water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za for queries or to report contraventions (evidence should be provided to assist the City’s enforcement efforts) or they can send an SMS to 31373.

For further information, residents should please visit the water restrictions page on the City’s website: www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

Councillor Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services; and Energy, City of Cape Town,

Tel: 021 400 1299 or Cell: 074 279 9940,

Email: Xanthea.limberg@capetown.gov.za (please always copy media.account@capetown.gov.za)

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