Stemming tide of city-wide drought

The water installation was placed at the V&A Waterfront for people to share tips on water saving.

In light of the urgent water crisis that Cape Town is facing and in celebration of World Water Day, celebrated yesterday, March 22, a CBD-based business designed a water installation and placed it at the V&A Waterfront.

The installation by Studio H, built with water buckets, provided people with information about water conservation, and also gave them an opportunity to share their water-saving tips.

By Monday, 450 tips had been hung onto pin boards at the installation, which was taken down yesterday, Wednesday March 22, after four days at the Waterfront.

Once the installation was taken down, the 850 buckets were donated to Thula Thula, an NGO founded to offer relief to victims of fire in Hout Bay. A fire which started in the Imizamo Yetho informal settlement in Hout Bay on March 12 has affected almost 15 000 people.

People were also challenged to donate money so more buckets could be bought for the NGO.

Hannerie Visser, the founder of Studio H, a multi-disciplinary design studio in Bree Street, said the company was passionate about promoting sustainable practices, so they decided to design something for World Water Day about a month ago.

“We had to build it in 24 hours which was quite a challenge. We struggled for four hours to get the cherry picker on site to hang the buckets on the flagpoles, but all was good near the end. We were ready in time,” she said.

V&A Waterfront spokesperson Emma King said sustainability initiatives form an integral part of the Waterfront as a business.

“We run a number of initiatives from water and electricity saving to recycling throughout the year. The V&A Waterfront took the opportunity of International Water Day to highlight the water crisis and to ask our visitors to share their water-saving tips with others and demonstrate how to collect and use grey water.”

Ms King said the Waterfront made the space available to Studio H as part of the business’s partnership agreement.

According to the City of Cape Town, by Monday March 20 the dam levels were standing at 28.6 percent. However, as the last 10 percent of the dam’s water is not usable, dam levels are effectively at 18.6 percent with about 103 days of water left.

On Monday, the mayoral committee member (Mayco) called on the national government to declare a local state of disaster as a result of the drought.

Xanthea Limberg, Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said: “We are in the midst of one of our worst droughts of the past century.

“Cape Town is in a water-scarce region and is experiencing the impacts of climate change with an increased frequency of drought events.

“The two consecutive years of drought have severely reduced stream flows into the dams of the Western Cape Water Supply Scheme. The dams are likely to reach extremely low levels by the onset of the 2017 winter and are unlikely to recover satisfactorily should average to below average rainfall be experienced over this coming winter.”

She thanked those who found new ways of saving water, but has challenged the public to get closer to the target.

Consumption over the past week reached 750 million litres a day compared to the collective usage target of 700 million litres a day.

The City is now considering the construction of various small-scale emergency water supply schemes to increase supplies in the short term, which include:

BLOB: Emergency drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group Aquifer (TMGA) with a yield of approximately two million litres a day;

BLOB A small-scale desalination package plant, located along Cape Town’s north-western coastline with a yield of approximately two million litres a day; and

BLOB: Intensifying the City’s pressure management and water demand management programmes to further reduce water demand.

In the event that there is another winter of below average rainfall, the City will be expanding these emergency measures by:

BLOB: Expanding the emergency TMGA scheme by incrementally adding boreholes for an additional yield of 10 million litres a day;

BLOB: Expanding the emergency seawater desalination package plant for an additional yield of two million litres a day;

BLOB: Using a small-scale water re-use for drinking use plant with a yield of 10 million litres a day; and

BLOB: Drilling and expanding a wellfield into the Cape Flats Aquifer with a combined yield of five million litres a day.

Ms Limberg said the capital costs of the emergency schemes are currently estimated at R315 million over three financial years (2016/17 to 2018/19).

The City’s Water and Sanitation Department will be funding these projects primarily through internal re-prioritisation.

Residents can contact the City via email to for queries or to report water contraventions. Evidence should be provided to assist the City’s enforcement efforts or send an SMS to 31373.

For more information, residents can visit the water restrictions page on the City’s website:

SIDE BAR: (Staff reporter)

The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has implemented initiatives to further curtail its use of potable and irrigation water.

Over the past year the CTICC has reduced the toilet cistern water-holding capacity by 20% in all ablution facilities; replaced butterfly shutdown valves to reduce the water supply to cooling towers by 20%; treated water leaks as emergencies; and replaced the corroded main water supply.

The CTICC has recently installed two water storage tanks in the P3 parking area to harvest grey water from several of its ablution facilities to be used for landscaping. The two tanks have a storage capacity of 5 000 litres each.

The centre also reduced the flow rate of its basin tap water in all of its ablution facilities.

“The current state of the Western Cape water crisis was a definite motivator to install the tanks. The volume of water we harvest will be determined by the size and number of events taking place. The centre will continue to seek ways in which to minimise its water use, and continues to be committed to observing the level 3B water restrictions. We are also serious about sustainability and are looking into viable initiatives that can be established as long-term business practices to reduce our environmental impact,” said CTICC CEO Julie-May Ellingson.

While the tanks have been installed during the water restrictions period, they will continue to form part of the centre’s standard environmental sustainability practices beyond the current emergency.

“Saving water is a particular concern to us. As a result of water saving initiatives, the CTICC, over the last financial year, reduced the centre’s water consumption by 5% and now uses 10 million litres less water a year than it had five years ago,” said Craig Barrington, the general manager of facilities and operations at the CTICC.

The CTICC will install sub-metering to further track its water usage and enhance its ability to detect leaks throughout the building. It is also rolling out an awareness campaign to educate staff and visitors on water saving actions they can implement at home and in the workplace.