From the news desk

Drought is now a “crisis”, says City

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Authorities have issued a critical warning to water consumers in Cape Town – start saving water or we could have empty taps soon. On Monday, the City of Cape Town warned all residents and businesses to cut non-essential municipal water use immediately. The City’s Mayoral Committee is expected to recommend to Council the implementation of Level 4 water restrictions tomorrow. This would entail a ban on all use of municipal water for outside and non-essential purposes.

“We are essentially saying that you are only allowed to use a bit of water for drinking, cooking and washing. We are reaching a critical point in this drought crisis. Although we continue to work non-stop to force consumption down, overall use remains catastrophically high. This is not a request. We have seen huge saving-efforts, but the unseasonably hot autumn is exacerbating the situation and we must all do more,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

“Rain or shine, we are now at a point where all consumers must use below 100 litres per day. Stop flushing toilets when not necessary, shower for less than two minutes a day or use a wet cloth for a ‘wipe-down’, collect all would-be wasted water and use it to fill up toilet cisterns, among others”

Dam levels are now at 21,2%, which is 0,8% down from a week ago. With the last 10% of a dam’s water mostly not being useable, dam levels are effectively at 11,2%. The latest consumption has jumped up again to 718 million litres, which is 118 million litres over the consumption target of 600 million litres.

Dredging operations have started at the Voëlvlei Dam to prepare for low-level extraction of water. The City is engaging with the lead authority, the National Department of Water and Sanitation, as a matter of urgency to request dredging operations at Theewaterskloof Dam too.

According to Limberg, the City continues with its pressure reduction programmes across the metro which forcibly reduces supply at a given time. Other emergency interventions are under way, and if required, the City will start to implement a lifeline supply of water across the metro.

“In a severe drought such as what we are dealing with, the only real immediate intervention is to cut usage. Over this coming week, we must bring consumption down with 100 million litres of water per day. The City also warns businesses to start implementing contingency and alternative water measures in their own operations,” said Councillor Limberg.

Use water only for drinking, washing and cooking:
• Only flush the toilet when necessary. Don’t use it as a dustbin. ‘If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down’
• Take a short 2-minute shower. A standard (non –water-saving) showerhead can use as much as 16 litres per minute
• Collect your shower, bath and basin water and re-use it to flush your toilet, and for the garden and cleaning. *Greywater use has some health and hygiene risks you must avoid. Keep hands and surface areas sanitised/disinfected.
• Defrost foods in the fridge or naturally rather than placing it under running water
• Use a cup instead of running taps in the bathroom or kitchen, for brushing teeth, shaving, drinking etc.
• Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. The rinse water from some washing machines can be reused for the next wash cycle.
• Switch to an efficient showerhead which uses no more than 10 litres per minute, as per the City’s by-law.
• Upgrade to a multi-flush toilet and/or put a water displacement item in the cistern which can halve your water use per flush.
• Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce flow to no more than 6 litres per minute, as per the City’s by-law.

How to check for leaks on your property:
1. Close all taps on the property and don’t flush the toilets
2. Check and record your meter reading
3. Wait 15 minutes and record the meter reading
4. If there is a difference in your meter reading, you have a leak
5. Call a plumber if it is not a DIY job

One leaking toilet wastes between about 2 600 and 13 000 litres per month, depending on the flow rate of the leak. A leaking tap wastes between about 400 and 2 600 litres per month.

Residents can contact the City via email to for queries or to report contraventions of the water restrictions (evidence should be provided to assist the City’s enforcement efforts) or they can send an SMS to 31373.

For further information, residents should please visit the water restrictions page on the City’s website:

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  1. “The fewest of the few,” Sayed ’Abd Al-Qādir al-Jīlānī had called the awliyā-Allāh in the Twelfth Discourse of “Al-Fatḥ ar-Rabbānī”. In the same discourse within the translation from the Arabic by Muhtar Holland called “The Sublime Revelation – A Collection of Sixty-Two Discourses”, Sayed ’Abd Al-Qādir al-Jīlānī described them as “unique individuals of such extraordinariness and rarity that even one of them is seldom to be found. They are the strangers among the tribes. They are mines in the earth, in which they are monarchs. They are the prefects of cities and men [shiḥan al-bilād wa’l-’ibād]. Because of them the people are shielded from disaster. Because of them they receive rain. Because of them Allah sends rain down from the sky, and because of them the earth puts forth vegetation.”

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