The City of Cape Town’s newest desalination plant is due to start producing fresh water any day now. Housed at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town’s most popular waterside shopping precinct, the desalination plant is expected to add two million litres of water per day to the city’s grid.
This is the second desalination plant to come online in the past month, following Koeberg Nuclear Power Station’s personal plant that takes care of the power utility’s freshwater needs. These form part of the city’s long-term plan to reduce its reliance on dam water supply which is vulnerable to droughts and severe weather conditions.
The City of Cape Town is also hoping to complete another desalination plant in Strandfontein by the end of March 2018, which will add a further seven million litres to the municipal grid come May. Drilling aquifers and tapping into springs also forms part of the city’s strategy to increase water supply to the grid.
The residents’ achievement
Democratic Alliance leader, Mmusi Maimane, announced in early March that Cape Town may avoid Day Zero altogether. This sparked mixed reactions from the public – while some rejoiced, others questioned whether Day Zero was just a ploy for the political party.
Regardless of whether Day Zero was ever a possibility, the incredible water saving achievement of Capetonians must be commended. In the past three years, Cape Town has cut its water usage by more than 50% – a feat that took Melbourne, Australia, 12 years to do when they were impacted by ongoing droughts at the turn of the millennium.
This has led Cape Town to the possibility of avoiding Day Zero for the year, provided that winter brings more rain. The collective responsibility and activism that has been displayed by Capetonians has shown that, despite vast economic inequalities, the city is unified in a common goal.
There has been much finger-pointing and blame being placed on various groups and organisations for the water crisis over the past year, but at the end of the day, the city has reached its water consumption goals. Residents deserve credit for completely changing their lifestyles and cutting back on their individual water usage as much as possible.
The need to save water is still vital
The announcement that Day Zero is unlikely to take place must not be taken as a signal to back to the old ways of using water. Capetonians still need to save water as the rainy season may be disappointing yet again.
Many residents disagree with Maimane’s announcement. “We remain in trouble and cannot at all be nonchalant about the issue,” says local resident Emma Brown. “We are not out of the woods.”
“We are only in March 2018 with no guarantee of normal winter rains. And as a reward‚ Cape Town‚ for saving all that water (700 million litres per day)‚ you are being punished with a 500% increase in your water bill,” argues Kaydin Davids on the popular ‘Water Shedding Western Cape’ Facebook group.
Level 6B water restrictions still remain in place, limiting personal water usage to just 50 litres a day.
Image © Joshua Oates
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