New emergency measures for Cape Town as water crisis reaches ‘point of no return’

The City of Cape Town says that reaching ‘day zero’ in its water crises is now practically a given, and has provided the new emergency measures that need to be followed.

After failing to get residents to adhere to water restrictions, the city says that it has passed the point of no return, and the local government will now have to force citizens to save water.

According to the city, over 60% of  Capetonians are still using more than 87 litres per day, and simply do not seem to care that the region is quickly running out of water.

“At this point we must assume that they will not change their behaviour and that the chance of reaching Day Zero on 21 April 2018 is now very likely,” it said.

“The people who are still wasting water seem to believe that Day Zero just can’t happen or that the city’s seven augmentation projects – set to produce around 200 million litres per day – will be enough to save us.

“This is not the case and, while our water augmentation programme will make Cape Town more water resilient in the future, it was never going to be enough to stop Day Zero.”

Because of this, the city is implementing new emergency measures, including restrictions on water use, as well as punitive charges for those who use more water than they are allowed.

A punitive tariff

The city has no choice by to force people to stop wasting water.The council will on Friday (18 January) be voting on a punitive tariff that will charge residents exponentially higher rates for water usage above 6,000 litres per month.

Provision will be made for households larger than four people to ensure that they are not unfairly penalised. The punitive charges are listed below:

50 litres per day for 150 days

The city will implement level 6B water restrictions with a new limit of 50 litres per person per day to make up for the many months of missing the 500 million litre per day collective consumption target.

The new restrictions will come into effect on 1 February 2018. The new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres per day.

This will be in place for 150 days after which the City will reassess the situation. Level 6B restrictions will also limit irrigation using boreholes and well points.

No drought levy, and advanced preparations

The city said that it will likely not move ahead with the proposed drought levy after a lot of negative feedback from residents. However, it will be compiling a day zero contingency plan which will be made available to the public in due course.

The plan will include details on collection points as well as updates on the emergency plans for desalination, groundwater and water reuse.

Read: Cape Town launches water tracker as drought tax looms

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New emergency measures for Cape Town as water crisis reaches ‘point of no return’