Update On The Water Crisis In The Western Cape
The water crisis in the Western Cape is deteriorating. The dams are not being augmented and the knee jerk solutions introduced by the City Council is having a minimal improvement on the dam levels. In fact as it is with national government the Western Cape government in harmony with the Cape City Council adopted punitive measures aimed at end users that excludes industry and agriculture.
The planned augmented measures were featured in our previous edition and these measures include water restrictors that can be remotely controlled. Residents will be charged R4000 for the installation of these restrictors. In view of the harsh measures introduced by the Cape City Council many organizations have raised many misgivings around the measures introduced by the City to save and conserve water. The general criticism is that the Western Cape Government together with the Cape Town City council has focused on revenue based solutions rather than approaching the water crisis from the basic right of South Africans enshrined in the constitution to access to clean quality drinking water view point.
It is argued that despite the fact that the agricultural sector uses approximately 60% of water and households use only 12% the focus has been on households to save water and have neglected to find innovative ways for agriculture to save water. It has been reported that the bottled water bought at all retailers in the Western Cape comes from farming areas in the Western Cape. This includes areas such as Citrusdal. It has been found that spring water as well as tap water is being bottled and sold for a profit yet we are experiencing the worst drought in 100 years. The question that begs an answer is why should private companies to make a profit in the midst of one of the severest droughts as well as spring water use municipal water? Surely this water should be part of the water-augmented plan. This water should be redirected into the public water system.
It is public knowledge that there are some 36 springs and many underground streams of fresh mountain water streams that just flows into the sea. The City argues that it is not cost effective to rehabilitate and purify this water, yet the untreated Newlands spring the public is consuming water without any restrictions by the City. The council is now spending many millions on rehabilitating sewage and has not fully explored the benefits of revisiting allowing the commercialization of our water resources by private companies.
The City Council has also been extremely slow in embracing new technology in its efforts to save and augment its water sources. For example the University of Pretoria ran a project in Limpopo using Graphene technology. The project was run on high ground in Limpopo. Through only 27m of graphene mesh about 1500 liters of water was collected in rural Limpopo province at Tshanowa primary school. The only effort was to keep the gutters clean and to check the wire clips that keep it in place. It does not use electricity and extracts water from the air. This could easily be installed an and around dams to limit water loss through evaporation and in areas where the humidity is naturally high such as Newlands and on certain areas on Table Mountain or housing close to the sea.
Tshanowa Primary School gathers 1500 litres of water through 27m of graphene mesh.
From the reports and opinions from various reputable organizations it is clear that the Western Cape Government must revisit its water augmenting and conservation strategy and take on board the need to conduct a more comprehensive audit on the available natural water sources in the Western Cape and how it is being used or abused by private companies and to explore innovative technological methods of augmenting its water sources.