DA leader Mmusi Maimane has taken political control over the City of Cape Town’s response to the ongoing water crisis, as day zero draws closer.
In a speech delivered at Athlone in Cape Town on Wednesday, Maimane said he was taking the “unprecedented” move, as all DA-led governments are accountable to him through the party’s federal executive, and he is not satisfied with City’s response to the crisis.
Maimane said he was establishing a Drought Crisis Team, with management of the crisis handed over to Cape Town deputy mayor Ian Neilson and committee member in charge of water and sanitation, Xanthea Limberg.
Western Cape premier Helen Zille will lead and direct the disaster management response in the event that day zero does arrive.
Based on current supply and consumption levels of water, day zero will hit Cape Town on 12 April 2018.
Dam levels in the region are currently at 27.2%, with 17.2% usable water left.
Maimaine said that the city is forced to limit its total consumption to 450 megalitres a day – thus every resident of Cape Town can only use a maximum of 50 lires of water per day, no matter the context.
To bring demand to 450 megalitres per day, the city will also be throttling water supply through pressure reduction.
“This may see many parts of the city without water for a period of time, never exceeding 12 hours,” Maimane said.
He appealed to residents to go even further and reduce usage to 40 litres a day, to push day zero further out.
Longer term plans
Over the longer term, the city will be looking to add 120 megalitres to the bucket by May 18, through augmentation strategies.
These include bringing aquifers online at Atlantis and the Cape Flats, as well as transferring water from other dams and private sources.
Speaking on the use of desalination plants, Maimane stressed that the route was expensive and complex. Specifically, one plant would cost R15 billion, which is a third of the city’s entire budget.
The DA leader also noted that the procurement process for such facilities are outside of the city’s legal mandate. In effect, it would need the help of national government in the matter.
He also stressed that building new dams was also not the city’s mandate – this, too, was the responsibility of national government.
“In the event that despite all these efforts, we are unable to avoid Day Zero, then I wish to assure you that a massive amount of preparation is going in to ensure that residents have access to 25 litres of safe, clean water every day,” Maimane said.
The provincial government will work with the City of Cape Town to ensure that residents are able to access a daily amount of water: 25 litres per day, per resident.
There will be identified public distribution points across the city to receive a daily allocation. These will be managed in as fair and orderly a manner as possible.
“We recognise that this an area of particular concern for many citizens, and it is clear that these plans need to be expanded and made more robust and clear,” Maimane said.
“Going forward, the team and I will hold weekly briefings on progress made in local media and on our social channels.”