May 25, 2018

Cape Town, Day Zero Update

Taking the pulse of the current situation surrounding the water crisis in Cape Town

An update on the Day Zero water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa

With the onset of Day Zero in Cape Town, global water concerns were brought to the forefront in the midst of a water crisis of unprecedented scale. The city’s water supplies were set to run out as far back as April, but through a concerted effort between the city and its citizens, Day Zero has been delayed far past its original set time, and has been pushed to an undetermined date in 2019.

This is not to say the situation in Cape Town has reached an entirely safe level. It is an ongoing issue that requires consistent attention and analysis. That being said, there have been notable developments in the saga over past weeks. Mainly, the three separate desalination plants, which have been subject to a bevy of delays since February, have all gone operational in the month of May.

Xanthea Limberg, member of the mayoral committee, claims that construction at each of the plants is complete, as well as water quality testing. Delays of the desalination plants resulted from funding issues and a longer-than-expected water quality testing process. Two of the new plants, the Monwabisi and Strandfontein, will likely produce up to 7 million liters of water per day, while the remaining V&A Waterfront facility will produce approximately 2 million liters. Such news is a welcome reprieve for Cape Town citizens, who will reap the benefits of an improved water supply from the new plants.

Another development of note involves a recent reporting of the residents’ water consumption and the city’s dam level. As reported by the city of Cape Town on May 13, 2018, the city was significantly over its targeted water consumption, as its residents used 554 million liters of water throughout the week prior to the reporting of the statistic. This number is 104 million liters more than the target of 450 million liters per day, and a 6.7% increase from the city’s consumption of 519 million liters the week previous.

Despite this uptick in use, the city also shared a positive development regarding its dam levels. Cape town saw a slight increase of 0.5% in its dam levels, putting it at 21.4% overall due to increased rainfall and decreased evaporation rates. In an impressive achievement, the city’s dam water supply levels now sit only 0.1% below where it did this time last year, denoting positive strides made by the city and citizens to more effectively conserve water.

Cape Town’s Water and Sanitation Department’s will also make efforts to expedite its implementation of pressure management technology across its water supply network. Plugging in such technology to the city’s water supply will likely improve water consumption even further, as it reduces the rate at which water flows to various properties. Other benefits include a reduction in leaks and pipe bursts.

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