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Three reasons exist as to why the Western Cape is in the claws of a doomsday Day Zero scenario with Capetonians made to feel like water wasting minions. Two reasons are manmade while the third, mother-nature, is mercilessly exposing them.

Sandra Dickson

Yesterday, Day Zero was moved out by almost one month from 16 April to 11 May. You may now ask; WHY?

Firstly, let’s take a look at the Western Cape agricultural sector. According to Alan Winde of the DA, in 2013 the gross rand value of the sector was R12bn with a projected growth of 126% by 2019. This exceptional growth will be brought about the Khulisa growth plan and the Smart Agri plan announced by the Western Cape Province in May last year – generously funded by the DA-run Province amidst a conspicuous absence of expansion plans for dams or water supply required to support the heavily increasing agricultural activities.

The reality is 3.7m citizens of the City of Cape Town and the agricultural sector are sharing Theewaterskloof dam, which accounts for 53% of the total capacity of the 6 major dams of the Western Cape. Incidentally, water levels in the dam are sitting at 12,5% on 5 February 2018.

Since the beginning of Spring, the agricultural sector was drawing around 1200ML of water from Tweewaterskloof per day. During the same period, residential usage started around the same amount and saw a rapid decline due to the City Of Cape Town mercilessly driving down water usage of citizens, to a usage of 547 ML’s per day (Dashboard, 5 February 2018). The agricultural sector, however, unabatedly continued to use 1200ML per day until more or less ten days ago, despite calls by DWS to reduce water usage by at first 40% and then by 60%.

Agriculture was directed, as far back as November 2017, to reduce their water usage, but a look at the City’s dashboard reveals this reduction only began 10 days ago. Farmers were unabatedly rushing to fill their quotas, placing tremendous strain on the supply of water to themselves as well as the citizens of Cape Town.

According to the City’s dashboard, the agricultural sector has substantially exceeded their water usage target each week since November 2017.

A closer look at the “wasteful” citizens of the Metro City.

It was fact-checked, by the City, that citizens use 65% of the water supplied.

A simple calculation shows the following for the week ending 5 February 2018; Total water usage by the people living in the Metro is 65% of the 547ML allocated in total – this divided by the 3.7 million citizens gives us a conservative maximum usage, per person, of 95l per day.

However, the figure of 3.7 million people is based on the most recent census, conducted in 2011 whereas it is widely believed many more people live in the Metro City. 95l per person a day is, therefore, an overestimate – it can be reasonably assumed that actual usage is lower per person.

It is therefore hard to fathom or justify why the City’s council deemed it necessary to introduce level 6b water restrictions on residents. It is even harder to understand how or where the City concludes that 60% of citizens are water wasters.” The level 6b water restrictions also carry increases in water tariffs in excess of 500%, which is grossly unacceptable.

Reason number two is the strategy chosen by the City of Cape Town to drive down water usage of citizens, at any cost. Whereas agriculture is set on a growth path requiring higher usage in the absence of any augmentation plans, citizens, who rely on the same source, are forced to reduce water usage.

A further strategic flaw is the forceful installation of Water Management Devices, at a cost of over R4000 each and a rate of 2000 per week – while forcing citizens to accept and be liable for costs. These meters are often faulty, leaving households without water for days, which is causing frustration an general mistrust amongst residents.

It is, therefore, no secret that the Citizens of Cape Town are angry and feel done in. The well-hidden origin of all of this saw light yesterday when the City’s dashboard finally shows what is going on. It is therefore welcomed that all users of the six major dams are now being treated equally. The reduction in water usage by the agricultural sector over the last ten days made a month’s difference in the lives of 3,7 million people. Day Zero was moved out by almost one month and we can breathe again, for a while.

The City of Cape Town and the Western Province DA controlled governments must be stopped in their tracks before they effectively ruin the entire Province for every person living in it.