9 January 2018

  • The need to augment raw potable supplies in Cape Town, via the re-use of wastewater re-use and/or desalination interventions, was predicted as early as 1970 (i.e. 47 years ago) to be required by the year 2000 (1970 Government Commission on Water Matters). The volumetric estimates of water demand by the latter date (2000) were also predicted with unprecedented accuracy in the 1970 assessment.  While the assessment pre-dated the construction of the Theewaterskloof and Berg River impoundments, it underestimated population growth and did not consider climate change — other than to acknowledge that the ravages of drought can only be offset through planning and optimal resource utilization.
  • Estimates placed the generation of effluent at 70% of total abstraction. For Cape Town, this is an immense volume of water, continuously available for treatment and re-use – instead dumped into the nearest river or the sea.
  • Despite the aforementioned warning, both the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and, in particular, the City of Cape Town (‘CoCT’), have apparently ignored same in favour of more recent reports/predictions which, ostensibly, have played down the need to take substantive preventative action to augment supplies. Despite population expansion and the burgeoning migration to the City, including thousands of economically-disadvantaged families, the CoCT chose to loosely follow a practice of ‘demand-management’.  None of the three interacting spheres of government — national, provincial or local —, however, can excuse themselves from responsibility for the extant crisis.

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