Water war launched on Cape’s leafy suburbs

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has declared war on high water users in the city. “We are coming for you,” said De Lille at a water and energy forum at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

The “new normal” water saving regime which the city has implemented – as the city authorities expect that the drought will persist for years to come – has already had some successes.

The city has been putting in “throttling” devices at the homes of high water users. The numbers have been brought down from 55 000 to 30 000. A spokesman for the city of Cape Town said that these are spread among all the suburbs of the city – including the predominantly leafy white suburbs like Constantia and Newlands and the predominantly coloured areas in Mitchells Plain and Grassy Park.

Zara Nicholson, the spokesman for De Lille, said it must be emphasised that there were “excessive water users across the city in every suburb”. Some of the high users have in the past been located in such areas as Durbanville, Southfield, Retreat, Oakdale, Rondebosch, Maitland, Crawford, Three Anchor Bay, Constantia, Claremond and Parklands.

The mayor, who will hear inputs from business leaders in the City of Cape Town later, urged people not to blame informal settlement dwellers for high water use. It simply wasn’t true, she said. Roughly five families had access to just one tap on average in these areas. The shack areas of Cape Town use a tiny fraction of the overall water – total use of which which is still persistently high at 600 million litres a day.

The city has set a threshold of 500 million litres a day – but this still remains elusive. High water users and commercial users are still the big culprits. The mayor herself said she phoned four companies – which she did not identify – to warn them that they were very high water users.

These companies had taken steps to cut back on water usage and put in internal restrictions in their buildings. Many people were no longer using water at home, preferring to shower and use water for other purposes at their workplaces, the mayor reported.

At 25 000 locations – mainly private homes – water metre devices have been put in place – rationing these places to just 350 litres of water a day.

De Lille said that there were 4 000 people specially employed to tackle water leaks, which at present stood at about 15 percent. She had instructed that this be brought down to below ten percent.

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