CAPE TOWN – The Western Cape is in the grips of the worst drought in a century that shows no sign of breaking.
Provincial and City of Cape Town bosses are now scrambling to avert Day Zero – that’s the day we pump the last useable water out of our dams and the taps run dry.
“We have to build now the model that can co-fund whether we have rain or not, because it’s long term planning,” says Western Cape Economic Opportunities and Agriculture MEC Alan Winde.
“And everyone says we should have done it three years ago when the dams were all full. With hindsight, definitely we should have.”
Winde acknowledges that they should have started working on crisis plans in 2015.
Now authorities are facing a very delicate balancing act as they have to bring alternative water sources online as soon as possible but that costs money.
They can’t recoup that money by overcharging big business and they don’t want to pass all the cost onto consumers.
One way or another, Winde predicts that a water tariff hike for the man on the street is most likely inevitable next year.
The city is relying on small desalination plants dotted around the peninsula, drilling into the aquifers and cleaning sewerage water to add to Cape Town’s water supply and stave off day zero.