City of Cape Town water warning

The City of Cape Town would like to inform all customers that there has been lower than average rainfall and run-off in the catchment areas of the major dams supplying Cape Town and the surrounding region with water this winter. As a result, the levels of the major dams of the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) are lower than the City is comfortable with as we come to the end of the rainy winter season.

The six major dams of the WCWSS are currently at about 74% capacity which, while not critically low, is lower than average over the last 20 years. The National Department of Water and Sanitation, together with all stakeholders in the region (including the City), will therefore meet and decide at the beginning of November whether restrictions will be required over the coming summer season, and if so what the level of restriction will be.

Restrictions are put in place to conserve water resources during periods of drought in order to ensure ongoing supply to consumers. Should the National Department of Water and Sanitation decide that water restrictions are necessary over the coming summer, the City will support the decision, as it is in everyone’s interest in the region to protect our water supplies to consumers, as well as to conserve our water resources.

‘The City would like to emphasise the need for consumers to continue with water saving practices as it is imperative that all of us play our part to conserve water in the city. We need to be mindful that the water being provided to us by the City of Cape Town is of an exceptionally high quality and should not be wasted. It is this culture that we need to maintain as consumers throughout the year – come rain or shine,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Councillor Ernest Sonnenberg.

In this regard, the City tries to lead by example. Over the past few years, the City has introduced a number of measures aimed at reducing water losses including asset management, pressure management schemes, pipe replacement programmes, leak detection software and customer education and awareness about water saving and alternative water sources. Leak repairs on private properties are also being offered to indigent customers. These initiatives have up to now successfully suppressed the water demand across the city to below maximum levels reached in 2000.

Further to this, the City has also incorporate good water use practices into its Water By-law, in an attempt to reduce water demand by 10%. Responsible water use by customers is therefore a legal requirement in Cape Town, and reflects the City’s commitment to protecting its water demand.

The current requirements of the Water By-law are:
· No watering of a garden, sports field, or other grassed area using potable water, between 10:00 and 16:00
· Where a hosepipe is used for irrigation, it must have a controlling device attached at the end
· No washing or hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas with potable water
· A hosepipe used for washing vehicles must be fitted with an automatic self-closing device
· Automatic top-up systems for swimming pools and garden ponds are not allowed
· Commercial car wash industries must comply with industry best practice norms
· Wash basins in public facilities must be fitted with demand-type taps
· Showers provided at public facilities must be fitted with demand-type valves
· Potable water may not be used to dampen sand or other building material to prevent these materials from being blown away
· Standpipe draw-off taps must be of a height of at least 450 mm, measured above ground level
· The maximum flow rate from any tap installed at a hand basin may not exceed 6 litres per minute
· The maximum flow rate of any showerhead may not exceed 10 litres per minute
· Water closet cisterns may not exceed 9,5 litres in capacity
· Automatic flushing cisterns or tipping tanks shall not be used for flushing a urinal
· All automatic flushing cisterns fitted to urinals must be replaced with manually operated systems, or non-manual apparatus that only flushes after each use
· Terminal water fittings (taps and outlets) installed outside any buildings, other than residential buildings, must incorporate a self-closing device; or have a removable handle for operating purposes; or be capable of being locked to prevent unauthorised use; or be of a demand type that limits water use for each operation
· Water audits must be undertaken annually by major water users, but excluding where these are multiple dwelling units
· No person may allow water, used as a heat-exchange medium in any equipment or plant and supplied from a water installation, to run continuously to waste except for maintaining a prescribed level of total dissolved solids in a recirculating plant

The Water By-law, as well as information regarding water conservation and alternative water options, can be found on the City’s Water and Sanitation website at

‘Because Cape Town is situated in a water-scarce, semi-arid region, it is important that we all do our bit to conserve our most precious resource and avoid unnecessary water restrictions and measures. Even minor adjustments in attitude and habits, when compounded, can make a significant difference,’ said Councillor Sonnenberg.

Issued by: Media Office, City of Cape Town

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