Please do not come to Cape Town…..Back to Forum
Many of you know that Cape Town is in the grips of a drought…a severe drought. It is estimated that April 21st will be “zero day” when all water will only be accessible through street stand-pipes. The dams are at 18% potable water capacity and it is still only half way through the dry season. The government have been aware of the possible situation for many months but are far too busy to be bothered with us and our basic need….water.
Thousands of passengers are arriving every day at CPT. All of these expect baths, showers, flushing loos, swimming pools…uh, uh…not for long.
I see that Cathay Pacific have announced a new route direct from HKG and CPT…more disappointed pax!
Local South Africans are considering a long temporary move to Durban as the prospect of queuing for hours at stand-pipes is not attractive.
The word is spreading worldwide with the news of the impending water situation.
So a plea to all travellers planning a trip to our beautiful city, please give us a miss for a year or so. It will not be pleasant.
Thanks.22 Jan 2018
I will second that. Cape Town may become the world’s first major city to run out of water, an appalling indictment on the authorities.
Obviously a drought cannot be blamed on anyone, but the over-population and rapid expansion of the population of CPT in 30 years, which has roughly quadrupled although the official figures are lower and do not count the large number of illegal immigrants, and the mismanagement of a limited and diminishing resource can only be blamed on the various authorities concerned. The ANC have moved black people in from other parts of the country in order to increase their vote in the WP, currently (mis)managed by the DA. It’s time for them to be removed.
The prospect of people having to fetch 25 litres a day of water from wellpoints is not a good one, and given South Africa’s demographics and history, can only lead to violence and bloodshed (think taxi wars….) Many people have their heads in the sand and do not believe that this will happen. It will.
The airlines flying into CPT have started making announcements about the shortage, and there is a large notice up in the international arrivals area, but this is not enough. Water needs to be physically restricted. Flights need to be cut. Just from London, there an an average of three flights a day, four on some days, up to 1300 people. Plus flights from FRA, PAR, AMS, MUC, CGN, ADD, DXB, AUH to mention just a few.
We need tourism, many jobs and livelihoods depend on tourism, but right now the consequences of too many tourists plus overpopulation are frightening to consider, and running out of water is closer to a doomsday scenario than the loss of jobs.
I’m cutting down the amount of time I spend in CPT for a couple of reasons, on being the water shortage, and I can happily manage on 50 litres a day – I’ve measured what we use, but there are too many selfish or ignorant people who don’t know or care.22 Jan 2018
Cape Town – With only 39% of Capetonians having adhered to water restrictions in the month of January, making the water crisis even more urgent, the WWF has released an information pack detailing what residents can expect should the city’s taps run dry.
The document builds on many of the main points raised at a recent press briefing on the water crisis held by Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille.
When is Day Zero likely to happen?
Both the City of Cape Town and WWF have calculated Day Zero to be about three months away on April 21.
This date is calculated based on how much water is in the big six dams that feed Cape Town and the Western Cape Water Supply System, and how much water is being used by the city’s residents, agriculture and how much dam water is lost to evaporation.
“As of 15 January, the dams were 28% full and if we continue using water at the current rate we will run out of water on 21 April,” says WWF.
De Lille explained at the press briefing on Thursday that Day Zero could only be avoided if every single resident saves water. As things stand, Capetonians have mostly ignored the water restrictions.
“During the past week only 39% of Cape Town’s residents used less than 87 litres of water per person per day – compared to 54% during the first week of January. I want to thank those residents who are saving,” said De Lille.
Cape Town’s average daily collective consumption remained too high, De Lille said. From an average of 578 million litres per day, Cape Town was now using 618 million litres per day, she said.
“For each day that Cape Town uses more than 500 million litres, the city moves closer to Day Zero,” De Lille said.
What is likely to happen on Day Zero?
“On Day Zero, the city will move into full-scale Emergency Stage 3. This means that water to households and businesses will be cut off. There will not be enough water in the system to maintain normal services and the taps (and toilets) will run dry,” stated WWF.
Schools and businesses may not be able to operate if there is no water supply.
According to WWF, only hospitals and clinics, stand-pipes in informal settlements and the 200 points of distribution where people can collect their allocated 25 litres per person will still receive water.
De Lille said that water supply to the Cape Town CBD and informal settlements would not be cut off on Day Zero.
At the briefing, De Lille said the city would be moving to Level 6B water restrictions from February 1, with a new target of 50 litres of water per person per day.
“The new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres per day,” De Lille said.
“This will be in place for 150 days, after which the City will reassess.”
How will Capetonians get access to water?
“The City will be demarking everyone’s local collection points from next week so that communities can begin preparing for [Day Zero],” said De Lille on Thursday.
WWF suggested that people, especially the elderly, who are unable to access water from the collection points become familiar with their neighbours.
Queuing and carrying water may be difficult for some people so it is essential that communities work together to ensure that everyone can get through the crisis, advises WWF.22 Jan 2018
And not just Cape Town. Another well know tourist spot is Knysna, which are at level 3 restrictions and the water is completely cut for several hours a day. Many people have rain water tanks but even these are now running dry. Where we lived, it was amazing to see people ignoring the hosepipe ban. They would water at 5am before the patrols came out at 7am or after 7pm when the estate patrols stopped. End even if caught the fine was just R.500 which does not deter when rates and levies which amount to over R.9000 a month can easily be afforded.
The last drought in this area was about 7 years ago, and Mossel Bay, under which we now fall (though not live), built a desalination plant. But then MB along with George is well managed by the municipality and not corrupt like some other towns! Cape Town could see this problem coming for several years now but did nothing for political reasons. They should have built at least two desalination plants and better managed existing resources, and this problem would have been avoided.
The other problem is the way houses are built. A single boiler will often serve the whole house, but those bathroom or kitchen furthest away from the boiler will often have to let the water run for several minutes before hot water comes out. Better building regs. would also help conserve water.23 Jan 2018
Hi LP….it’s all a bit late now.
The Cape Argus had its usual three supplements with houses for sale. All the houses that had a pool, and some are vast, had pictures of the pools full to the brim with no signs of covers to prevent evaporation. Topping up of pools has been illegal for nearly a year…but who cares. One can only hope that these will be the first properties to have their water turned off along with State House, government buildings/residences etc!!23 Jan 2018
I’m a South African (Durbanite), living in London with strong ties to SF and Sydney so the water issue in Cape Town has been on my radar for a while. I came across this Californian article/blog a while back and makes for an interesting read.
Something needs to be done! But are desalination plants the silver bullet Capetonians are in desperate need of? Or a millstone around the neck of future generations?
I don’t assume to have the answer here. I agree there has been widespread water (and other resources) mismanagement in the Western Cape (and across the whole of RSA) and the answer probably lies in a mix of water sources (i.e. not over reliant on any one source), but it’s too little too late.
In the meantime, as a non-resident, I can only support the OP and request that conscientious tourists avoid travel to the Mother City.23 Jan 2018
It’s time Capetonians start rehearsing for Day Zero
Robert J. Traydon
It’s amazing how the blame game works.
Cape Town’s water crisis is being blamed on national government’s failure to maintain/expand water storage and supply infrastructure; while local government is being blamed for not recognising the crisis soon enough and delaying mitigating intervention.
As a contrarian, my take on the water crisis is somewhat different. First and foremost, I blame us for driving fossil-fuelled cars, and the world’s largest CO2-emitting nations (including our own) for their criminally sluggish shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy alternatives. These actions are exacerbating climate change which is most likely responsible for the life-threatening downward trend in annual rainfall across the Western and Eastern Cape.
Secondly, I blame humanity’s pervasive reluctance to put measures in place to manage our species’ unsustainable population growth – which will continue to compound our water woes until some form of ‘population plateau policy’ is introduced.
And thirdly, I blame our population’s acceptance, if not promotion, of lifestyle overindulgence.
The life-threatening disease of lifestyle overindulgence
Unfortunately, there’s a vacuum of social and political will to address the first and second reasons for this water disaster but, fortunately, the third is well within our means.
Lifestyle overindulgence is synonymous with our species’ carelessness in living beyond the carrying capacity of our surrounding environment. Across the world, the convenience and affordability of piped water have allowed us to become complacent about how much water we use and where we get it from.
Environmental violation aside, this complacency couldn’t have been emphasised more by Cape Town’s dire water crisis, which has taken centre stage on local and international news. But, to the credit of roughly 40% of Cape Town’s population, the crisis has stirred a fundamental shift in mindset… one that embraces the concept of lifestyle moderation.
As for the other 60% of Capetonians: they’re either ignorant, nonchalant or in denial about the unprecedented catastrophe that awaits them. Hence the urgent need for a Day Zero rehearsal which, as a priority, should target those suburbs across the city that are showing the lowest compliance to the current water restrictions.
The sooner the City simulates a Day Zero water shutdown, the better, because it will serve as a much-needed wake-up call for all those seemingly disinterested Capetonians who are flouting water conservation efforts. And nothing rings truer than: the best way to get people to respect water is to make them carry what they use.
Hopefully the 60% can find it deep within themselves to exercise some level of austerity before Day Zero kicks in, or they’ll end up being both the least prepared and most affected people when it does.
Day Zero rehearsal is everyone’s responsibility
Although it would be hugely beneficial for the City to organise a Day Zero rehearsal, don’t count on them actually doing it. The sad truth is, Cape Town might well run out of water before the City even has time to schedule a rehearsal – as alluded to in last week’s article titled, “The day after Day Zero”.
So, rather than waiting helplessly for the City to carry out a rehearsal, Capetonians should take responsibility for conducting their own Day Zero rehearsals. For instance:
– Go out and buy as many 25 litre water containers as there are members in your household (and some spares);
– Shut off your property’s water supply at the incoming municipal main, and only open it once each day to fill the water containers where you park your car;
– Either carry or use a delivery trolley to take the containers inside, or organise someone strong to assist you;
– From there, experiment with various methods of decanting and distributing water to different parts of your home by means of more manageable 5 or 10 litre water containers; and
– Condition the members of your household to get by on their respective daily quotas of water.
– By running your own rehearsals for your home and/or your business before Day Zero actually arrives, you will be better positioned than most to deal with the days, weeks and potentially even months of hardship that will follow.
Citizens’ proactiveness will reduce possible chaos
Capetonians should try not to be caught up in the buying frenzy of 5, 10 and 25 litre water containers, tap adapters, delivery trolleys or wheelbarrows around the time of Day Zero. Be proactive early on so you can save all your strength and patience for the inevitable queues at the water collection points.
Hopefully the City will be sensible enough to open the water collection points at least a week before Day Zero arrives, to allow people to test water collection for themselves and spread word as to how it works. It would also give the City a window of opportunity to iron out any last-minute teething problems.
It must be said though, that the greatest challenge Capetonians will face is getting used to life on much less water. The sooner people moderate their usage to just 25 litres a day, the easier the transition will be when Day Zero finally rolls around… and that might well be sooner than we all expect.25 Jan 2018
While agreeing to a certain extent with the above comments, they focus on residents. The informal settlements will not be affected, the government buildings and properties will not be affected, the large rich properties of Fresnaye and Clifton will not be affected….just the rest of us! It’s all very well pontificating on how we should handle the situation prior to April, but I cannot carry 25 litre barrels up three flights of stairs.
My main point is to attempt to reduce the domestic and international visitors to our city who are travelling from areas of water plenty to drought. The world is learning of our plight. The word is spreading that it will be an unpleasant trip when hotels run dry, restaurants close due to lack of water for cooking, washing up and toilets, washing machines will be unable to launder sheets and towels. But don’t worry, there will be lots of beer as Castle Brewery in Newlands is fed by a healthy spring. The brewery is also intending to bottle this water for hospitals and schools….for free….but in plastic bottles! Those bottles will, of course, end up in the sea.
So, as I have said before, please avoid Cape Town. Durban has lots of water, and is a great holiday destination, please go there for your holiday or business meeting.25 Jan 2018
the large rich properties of Fresnaye and Clifton will not be affected
What about Constantia, Bishopscourt and others?
You’re right. They will only be affected by the hugely increased price of water on higher consumption. Regrettably, a lot of them will be able to afford to pay those charges and won’t care.
The authority has said it won’t cut water to the squatter camps, which is what I prefer to call them as it more accurately describes them, as it would provoke the likelihood of major health problems which risk being spread. Ironically, those who are unfortunate enough to live in those areas don’t pay for water, but apparently their usage is very low in comparison. I suppose there is a limit to how much water you will use of you have to carry it in buckets from a standpipe to your shack.
I also heard that the supply to the CBD won’t be cut. I think that type of favouritism is wrong and unfair.
It is time to cut tourism, and to repatriate illegal aliens.25 Jan 2018
Sorry to say I am 2 weeks into a 3 week holiday in South Africa and arrived in Cape Town yesterday. Trip was planned and paid for months ago. Have been careful with water conservation since we have been here. I must admit that first time in this wonderful country has far exceeded expectations, just love the people and the country. Will continue to conserve water until we leave on Monday.25 Jan 2018
Capetonianm….the selective supply of water, as you suggest, will be the catalyst for civil uprising. When that happens tourists and business visitors will find more acceptable locations in SA….hopefully.
Derek1948….so glad that you are enjoying the Western Cape. You will be one of the last tourists for some years to come to take advantage of what was a wonderful place. So sad. But the government ignored the signs over the last couple of years and have failed to act.25 Jan 2018
Derek : I too am delighted you have been made so welcome in South Africa, as is invariably the case. Thank you for being considerate over water.
Here’s an article that sums up the situation :
Magda Wierzycka calls on Ramaphosa to take charge of CT water crisis
Jan 25 2018 19:23
Cape Town – Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka has called on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take charge of the water shortage crisis in Cape Town.
In an open letter to Ramaphosa, who is currently leading SA’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Wierzycka wrote that the Cape Town water crisis was an “even greater disaster in the short term” than corruption and mismanagement plaguing state-owned enterprises.
“We need your guidance and the full resources of National Treasury to ensure that the worst-case scenario does not materialise. This is not a time for political point scoring – it is time for action,” she wrote.
“The cost of salvaging the situation is much lower than the cost of bailing out SAA or the Post Office. In fact, it is a fraction of that cost. Money can be raised, in time, from the residents of Cape Town and from investors. However, in the short term, we need strong leadership from the government elected to serve the people.”
Wierzycka, who has made a name for herself as an outspoken critic of private and public sector corruption and mismanagement, wrote that Ramaphosa should intervene “as soon as possible”.
“Without that intervention, the humanitarian crisis that is about to unfold in Cape Town will take a massive toll on our country.”
She said that a major SA city running out of water had the potential to “generate more negative headlines about South Africa in all international media than we have ever seen before”.
“It will bring the economy of the Western Cape to its knees, crush tourism, affect economic growth, destroy jobs and become a case study in how to mismanage a world-class city.”
Day Zero, the day when most of the city’s taps will be switched off, and Capetonians will have to queue to fetch 25 litres per person per day from 200 locations across the city, was this week brought forward by nine days to April 12 due to a drop in dam levels.
Dams supplying water to Cape Town are currently only 27.2% full.25 Jan 2018
Capetonianm…..an amazingly true and forthright article. Thankyou. Let’s hope that newspapers around the world pick this article up and print it. Only 65 days until Zero Day. Although you quote dam levels at 27.2% only 18.1% is acceptably potable, according to the Cape Times editorial a few days ago. The rest is sludge.
Will airlines offer free refunds in order to deter customers from flying to CT? Airlines will be forced to stop operating to CPT in the near future anyway when the crew accommodation becomes unacceptable. One can envisage a situation whereby long-haul flights will route via JNB for a crew change, then another crew operates a CPT shuttle for the few passengers who need to travel on to CT.
This would be attractive to airlines such as BA, LH, QR, EK, TK whereby they could save operating flights to CPT in the thinner months and amalgamating services.
Oh dear.26 Jan 2018
It remains to be seen what the airlines will do, but they certainly need to start making contingency plans such as you outlined. Ignoring the situation as it unfolds will not make it go away, it will make the scenario worse when it does occur, as it will.
Magda Wierzycka is a most inspirational woman who went from being a refugee from communist Poland to being South Africa’s wealthiest woman (so I have heard). All achieved by hard work and brain power. She’s outspoken, smart, gutsy, and honest, and very entertaining, typically Polish in fact. The video I’ve linked to below gives many interesting insights into Poland as it was and South Africa as it (sadly) is.26 Jan 2018