There are a couple of words that have become a part of South African’s vocabulary, perhaps more specifically, Cape Townians.
They are “load shedding” and “Day Zero”. Both are frightful and unsettling and affect our lives in a multitude of ways.
For the last eighteen months we have lived in fear of our dams drying up completely. The municipality has rationed us to stay within limits that we have been forced to put into play.
Seeing the devastating effects of the dry barren fields amidst thin starving animals has been devastating.
This winter of 2019 has brought with it enormous relief, in that our dams have risen significantly.
Avoiding Day Zero, at least for this year, has given the Cape Town area some much-needed time to develop supplemental water supplies for its growing population. Among the options being considered are modular desalination plants (modest in size, to allow for turnkey operation as needed) and withdrawals from two large aquifers that lie beneath the region. One marine salvage expert has even proposed hauling in massive icebergs from the south as needed, although the city’s acting executive mayor, Ian Neilson, threw cold water on the idea in May, calling it “both complex and risky with an anticipated very high water cost.”
As a result of the last strong cold front, which brought with it heavy rains and snow in some parts of the country, all six large dams have seen gains this week.
The Berg River Dam and Steenbras Upper Dam both remained above 100% full. In July 2017, these two reservoirs were 41% and 82.3% respectively.
The Theewaterskloof, the largest dam in the system, was just 21.7% full in July 2017. It’s now nearly three times as full two years later.
The potential water shortage affected us all in different ways. Specific to Cape Town North and the hospitality industry, this was a major problem whereby measures needed to be implemented, one of which was installing JoJo tanks.
The lesson for all of us has been not to take things for granted. We are still required to be conservative about our water usage and to avoid wastage.