Investing in resilient future water remains City’s priority in the face of climate change

07 Jul 2022 in Where We Govern

The City of Cape Town has recently published its latest Water Outlook March 2022 edition. This makes information available to stakeholders and the public on the current status of Cape Town’s water supply, progress on building resilience, and provides an outlook on future water security. View the report here:

The City of Cape Town is making every effort to ensure that its New Water Programme, currently under way, remains on track to produce about 300 million litres more water a day by 2030.

This will be done by investing in diverse sources such as desalination, water reuse and groundwater, which will be key to Cape Town’s reliable supply as the City navigates future drought. Diversifying our water sources will reduce the City’s current dependence on rain-fed dams as a main source of water.

‘Cape Town has made allowance for gradual drying due to climate change in our long-term water resource planning as outlined in the Water Strategy (2019). The City’s climate change modelling indicates that over the next 30 years, the Western Cape Water Supply System’s yield will decrease by 25%. This underscores the City’s drive to ensure that our updated New Water Programme (NWP) planned timeframes are met.

‘Over the next three financial years, the City will be investing about R2,05 billion in our NWP, which is progressing well. We have already invested R1,55 billion. This programme is designed to ensure that Cape Town’s water supply can withstand future drought,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Sanitation, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

Key highlights about Cape Town’s water outlook and water supply security:

  • It is imperative that the revised NWP’s planned timeframes are met and that projects are not delayed any further.
  • The City is conducting a study to better understand the current water demand (total water use, including losses) and in what way this demand will increase. The study will also consider how Cape Town can reduce demand should the City face future drought. This is crucial in terms of planning augmentation schemes in the NWP. Demand has continued to rebound since the most recent drought. During heatwaves in December 2021 and January 2022, daily consumption increased to near pre-drought levels of around 1 100 MLD.
  • If Cape Town experiences a scenario where there is a step-change in rainfall, the NWP would need to be adjusted and many schemes brought forward as the current planning assumes a gradual decline in rainfall.
  • Water reuse and desalination are critical new water resources for the future.
  • Planning for the adaptable NWP needs to proceed.

‘Currently about 740 million litres of water was being used per day over the past week. Dam levels are about 73,9% compared to 88,5% last year. Depending on the amount of rainfall over the next four months, the dams will likely fill to over 90% – and possibly spill (100%). The requirement for water restrictions from the Western Cape Water Supply system is usually assessed at the end of the winter rainfall season, being end October 2022. The City continues to monitor the rainfall and current water demand.

‘Residents are encouraged to read the latest Water Outlook so we can continue to journey together over the coming years as we work towards providing more water that is reliable and safe to drink. Water and Sanitation teams are hard at work to ensure that the planning, construction and investment in the NWP stays on track so that residents will continue to have a reliable supply and make Cape Town an even more attractive location for others to live, work and play.

‘While investment into future supply is taking place, residents and businesses are reminded to be water wise at all times to prevent wasting water. There are some basic tips for the public to help find and fix leaks on their properties. Also, please be reminded that there are regulations in the City’s Water By-law that are in effect at all times, even though water restrictions were lifted from 1 November 2020,’ said Councillor Badroodien.

The Water Outlook report also served before Council.

Links for more information:

Water wise tips:

City’s Water Strategy and New Water Programme: