Mmusi Maimane – Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) – launched the #DefeatDayZero campaign in Cape Town today (Wednesday 24 January 2018)… claiming he is taking decisive action as the Mother City faces an unprecedented situation and “natural disaster of immense proportions”. Day Zero has been moved closer to 12 April 2018… when the water […]
IN BRIEF – Maimane’s main points regarding the Cape Town Water Crisis included:
- New Drought Crisis Team in charge.
- It is the national government’s responsibility to deliver water and build dams, and legal action is being considered to compel govt to act.
- The City has reduced water loss below the national and international average.
- Desalination is too expensive but three small-scale plants are being brought on board.
- Primary focus is on bringing the Atlantis and Cape Flats Aquifers on line – more cost-effective and quicker.
- Transfers from private dams and water reuse will be happening.
- Day Zero is looming because of the worst drought in history, not because of lack of planning.
- Over 50% of Capetonians have not reduced their water usage.
- The only way to avoid Day Zero is to reduce water usage. Preferably only use 40 litres per day.
- Water throttling will be implemented. Parts of the City will go without water for up to 12 hours at a time.
- Government must more effectively manage demand from agricultural and other users who form part of the broader Western Cape Supply System.
- Day Zero plans are being thoroughly prepared for, and will be communicated well in advance.
- Don’t shower for more than 90 seconds.
With Cape Town experiencing its worst drought ever recorded, Maimane acknowledged the fear and anxiety this brings, and said: “I am very aware that there is a lot of public unhappiness, concern, and confusion as to how the DA-run City of Cape Town is responding to the situation…”
He admitted that he is “not fully satisfied” with the way the City has responded to the drought crisis, and that “its communication, in particular, has fallen short”. (Questions SAPeople sent last week – on behalf of followers – have still not been answered.)
He has therefore taken the unprecedented step, he says, of “taking political control of our respective government’s responses to the situation”. (He also said now is not the time for “politicking”.)
The DA Leader has transferred management of the drought crisis at the City to Ian Neilson, who will be supported by Xanthea Limberg, “the best people for the job”. They’ll form part of the new Drought Crisis Team.
“Helen Zille will make sure that the province leads and directs the disaster management response in the event that Day Zero does arrive,” said Maimane.
“Our mission is clear. We must defeat Day Zero. I happen to believe it is possible and I will give my all and they will too.”
He said “everything humanly possible” will be done, and promised regular communication in the future.
With Day Zero now set at 12 April 2018, Mmusi Maimane outlined the following:
It is the constitutional mandate of national government to deliver water to all municipalities.
Firstly our dams – the primary source of water for Cape Town. The dam levels are currently at 27.2% as of now with 17.2% usable water left.
Many people I speak to ask why more dams have not been built.
I want to make something very clear on the bulk supply of water. There is a misconception that this is the role of a city and it is a local government responsibility.
Let me be very, very clear. It is not.
It is the constitutional mandate of national government to deliver water to all municipalities.
The City purchases bulk water, in much the same way that it purchases bulk electricity from Eskom.
And therefore the funding for any additional water supply falls within national government. Local governments simply don’t have those kinds of funds or the mandate for bulk water provision.
The Western Cape as a whole needs the national government to play its legally mandated role to ensure greater water security. And I will be taking the fight to national government to make sure that it fulfils this role.
Indeed, both the City and Province are currently considering legal action to compel national government to act. This is not a finger pointing exercise, it is about ensuring that the Constitution is given effect to and that the rights of citizens and ratepayers are fought for and protected.
What the city does control is the infrastructure that cleans the water and carries it to your homes, businesses, and schools.
Long ago, the City put in place a strategy to reduce water losses from its pipe network, reducing such losses to 14%. The City has been hugely successful in delivering on this strategy, which is well below the international average, and also well below the average of 37% for municipalities in South Africa.
I am often asked how a city surrounded by ocean can run out of water.
Desalination, regardless of what anyone says, is expensive and complex.
And the problem is that there simply isn’t money. Large-scale facilities cost anything up to R15 billion. That is a third of Cape Town’s annual budget. No city can afford such facilities on its own. Especially when their provision is outside its legal mandate.
However, as part of our immediate augmentation plans, we are bringing on board 3 smaller-scale desalination plants which I visited this week. These are located at Strandfontein, Monwabisi, and the Waterfront.
Our primary focus is on bringing the Atlantis and Cape Flats Aquifers on line.
This is because aquifers provide a much more immediate and cost-effective water source than desalination.
Water supply will also be augmented by transfers from private dams and water reuse.
In total, the city plans to bring 120 megalitres on line by May 2018 as a result of these augmentation efforts.
The City will also look to even larger scale and aggressive augmentation projects to ensure water resilience in the years going forward, using a similar mix of water supply sources.
We must ensure that this situation never confronts Cape Town again. And the City will continue to go beyond its mandate in pursuance of the most effective and sustainable augmented water sources.
I need to be absolutely clear here – the only way to avoid Day Zero in the immediate term is by further reducing demand. There is no silver bullet or augmentation scheme which will in the short term change this simple fact.
Augmentation will only assist greatly in the years to come.
This is not because of a lack of planning or foresight.
It is because of the unprecedented severity of the current drought, the worst in recorded history.
Cape Town has come through previous droughts, because of the steps it has taken to manage and reduce demand.
And this is where, Cape Town, I need your immediate help and decisive action.
The only way to defeat Day Zero is to use less water. All of us. We are part of this continent and we have to work together. The high users will face tariffs but this is a punitive measure,
This is a hard reality. I know from first-hand experience that it is inconvenient, and that a great many households, rich and poor, have taken steps to drastically cut their consumption and now have to do even more.
But now is the time. There is only one last chance, and one last window of opportunity.
If we take this last chance and we rally together, it can be done. This chance will not present itself again.
I understand your frustration with this reality and I often wonder too how my own family can save even more water.
But so many households have managed to dramatically reduce their demand through innovative measures and sheer determination. These families are heroes and we are incredibly grateful for their efforts.
However, despite the large-scale campaigns to communicate otherwise, we estimate that over 50% of residents have not reduced their consumption.
We will unapologetically go after residents who for no good reason exceed their allocation. [Watch car washers in Cape Town.]
Indeed, every week 2000-2500 water demand devices are being installed at households across the City who exceed their allowance. This programme will now be accelerated.
The restrictions that will be in place from 1 February means that the City will only be able to use 450 megalitres per day.
This means that every resident of Cape Town can only use a maximum of 50l per day, no matter where you are; at home, at work, at school or whatever the context.
To further aid in our efforts to bring demand to 450 megalitres per day, we are also going to 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.
I would ask that this is something that we adapt to, as part of defeating Day Zero.
I must emphasise that if we stick to a maximum usage of 50 l per day, we can push Day Zero out.
Every day that we exceed the target of 50l, we will bring Day Zero closer.
Every day, I want you to join me to Defeat Day Zero.
But I’m going to do more. I’m going to ask my wife and two kids to do more. And that is to instead aim to use 40l per day.
It will be hard. But far easier than the taps running dry.
Three things we must do straight away if you aren’t already:
- Shower for less than 90 seconds.
- Have two buckets in every bathroom.
- Use your grey water to flush.
In addition to managing residential demand, we need the national government to play its role in managing demand across the supply system.
In particular, it must more effectively and proactively manage demand from agricultural and other users who form part of the broader Western Cape Supply System.
Agriculture draws more or less the same amount of water from the supply system as the City does during the summer months, and it must be noted that agriculture has already drawn down on its supply for the year.
We thus need the national department to accelerate its efforts to manage and restrict this demand if we are to defeat Day Zero.
Accordingly, I will be leading efforts in Parliament to hold the Department of Water and Sanitation and its Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, to their mandate.
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 l of safe, clean water every day.
The provincial government will work closely with the City to ensure that residents are able to access a daily amount of water: 25l per day, per resident of the City.
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.
The province and the city are now working on bringing on additional distribution mechanisms, so that we can relieve the pressure on public distribution points, by for example, using systems to deliver water to homes, shops etc.
Already, there has been great cooperation from the private sector, and these discussions will be accelerated in the coming days.
I am grateful for the work that Helen is currently doing in this regard.
I wish to assure every resident of Cape Town that details of these Day Zero plans will be communicated well in advance of this actually becoming a reality.
In addition, it must be noted that informal settlements, schools, hospitals and essential services would still be supplied with water as far as possible.
The City would also seek to ensure that CBD areas across the city are supplied with water so that economic activity can continue.
But Cape Town, let me repeat, we can avoid this and defeat Day Zero.
If we do nothing, we will hit Day Zero on 12 April.
If we stick to 50l per person, per day, we can push Day Zero out and give us a fighting chance to overcome this current crisis.
Going forward, the Team and I will hold weekly briefings on progress made in local media and on our social channels. Please also visit the DefeatDayZero website and Facebook page for regular updates and to pledge your commitment to defeat Day Zero.
Cape Town, it really comes down to each of us. And it is in our power to do this.
You have the power to do so. Humans have triumphed before and we must and we can now, defeat day zero.
Let’s ensure that each of us, our families, friends and fellow citizens unite together to defeat Day Zero. We can. And we must.