Cape Town water saving efforts must continue

In his last update, Lance Greyling, CTT board member and the Director of Enterprise and Investment in the City of Cape Town stressed the need for all of us to continue saving water despite the welcome announcement that we will in all likelihood avoid Day Zero in 2018. In this update he discusses the complexities of ensuring water security and the concern at this stage which is the next summer season, particularly if we have a rainfall as bad or even worse than we had last year. He urges all businesses and households to install whatever rainwater harvesting technologies are available so that we are able to capture and utilise as much of the winter rains as possible.


Given the unpredictability of the weather due to climate change it is unfortunately not beyond the realms of possibility that we could have another year of the worst rainfall in recorded history, although of course we are all hoping that this is certainly not the case. It is for this reason that level 6B water restrictions will remain in place at least until the end of winter and the City will be launching a number of communication campaigns to ensure that we don’t lose the mindset of water saving that we have all become accustomed to recently. We were a bit concerned with the consumption figures last week when we saw a sudden spike from 511 Ml per day to 565 Ml per day but thankfully this last week we have seen it return to a lower level of 522 Ml per day. It is important that we keep it to a lower level and even push to reach our nationally set target of 450 ml per day in order to buy us the necessary buffer for the next Summer season. In this regard I would encourage all businesses and households to install whatever rainwater harvesting technologies are available so that we are able to capture and utilise as much of the winter rains as possible.

rainwater tanks
This is a good time to install in rainwater harvesting systems so that you can catch rainwater expected during winter

It must also be emphasised that while Cape Town has thankfully averted the worst of the water crisis for now, other areas of the Western Cape are in a particularly dire situation. Our agriculture sector is experiencing major job losses as a result of this drought and this sectors survival could be put at risk if they have to endure the same kind of water cuts next Summer. This is just another reason for why we need to save as much water now so that those farmers who share our dams are not put in the same precarious position next season.

Work is also proceeding at breakneck speed with all of our short term augmentation projects and we should see the first water from our desalination plants come on stream this month. While the City has been trying to deal with the immediate short term crisis we have also been hard at work exploring and deciding on our options for building long term water resilience in Cape Town. Our starting point is that we never want to see Cape Town put in this position again due to unprecedented drought events, nor do we want to see our economy constrained by these kinds of severe water restrictions in the future. On the other hand though, we also don’t want to initiate a build programme that will require exorbitant water tariffs to fund it, thereby making our City globally uncompetitive.

To add to this complex equation, it must also be borne in mind that the dams that provide Cape Town with water is also shared by other users, namely agriculture and other smaller municipalities, and it is quite clear that this rain-fed system will continue to make up the bulk of our water supply. It is therefore vital that whatever decisions we take as the City of Cape Town has the buy-in of all the other users and that the National Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation who control the system are in agreement as to how our augmentation projects will impact on our future allocations from these dams.

Despite these complexities we are confident as a City that we will be able to find agreement on a way ahead in the near future that can truly build long term water resilience for Cape Town. To get a detailed insight into our current approach to our long term water future I strongly recommend that you read the latest Water Outlook 2018 and its accompanying documents that were updated last week. Links to these documents can be found below and we are encouraging all Capetonians and especially businesses to engage with these plans and share your comments so that we can build this water secure future together.

Useful links and Information

For convenience we have set up a City Business Enquiry Service that will provide information on the City’s procedures and processes. If you need any assistance please contact

All tiers of government are actively responding to the drought crisis through restrictions, reducing their own consumption, awareness raising and augmenting water supply, amongst other interventions. For the latest updates please refer below:

Level 6b water restrictions came into effect from 1 February, with the following impact:

  • Residents to use 50 litres per day; across home, work, school or elsewhere.
  • Commercial properties need to reduce usage by 45% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought).
  • Agricultural users need to reduce usage by 60% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought).

Full level 6b water restrictions guidelines, including new guidelines for borehole and well-point use.


The new water and sanitation tariff structures that came into effect on 1 February 2018.

New National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) guidelines for groundwater use.


Invest Cape Town – updates on business innovation, resources and FAQs

Day Zero Dashboard – indicates date from when we may have to start queueing for water. Updated every Monday.

City of Cape Town Water Dashboard showing dam levels and water usage. Updated every Monday

City Dam Levels Model – The Dam Levels Model is a macro-enabled spreadsheet which contains simplified dam level data so that you can stay informed about current water levels. Updated weekly.

Water Saving Toolkits – water and drought-related materials e.g. posters and guides

How to save water in your business or organisation, including a building water usage poster and guide.

Summary Guidelines for Alternative Water Installations, and apply here to install and use such systems.

Water Outlook 2018 Report and Water Outlook 2018 Presentation – produced by the City of Cape Town Water and Sanitation Department. Updated ad-hoc.

Day Zero and Water-related FAQs

Water Rationing Guide

Safe Use of Greywater booklet – how to use greywater safely at home or work.

All drought-related City of Cape Town media releases


All drought-related information at

Subscribe to Day Zero and drought-related information at


110% Green Western Cape for additional resources e.g. suppliers of water saving technologies and services. Please note that this is not an endorsement of these suppliers and/or services.

GreenCape has a drought business support service and runs regular workshops.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) #WATERSHEDWEDNESDAY and the series of Wednesday Water Files.


Drought crisis meeting for facilities managers

The City of Cape Town and SA Facilities Management Association (SAFMA) with support from Old Mutual, GreenCape and Western Cape Government recently hosted an interactive drought crisis meeting for facilities managers. Read more here.

Alternative water workshop for plumbers

An alternative water workshop for plumbers was held on 20 March 2018. The event provided plumbers and alternative installers an update on the drought crisis and an opportunity to engage in detail on the practical implementation of alternative water system installations, including regulation and legislated requirements and technical aspects. Download the presentation here.