Drought the 'new normal' – De Lille
Publish date: 16 May 2017
Issue Number: 507
Diary: Legalbrief Environmental
Category: Climate Change
The heavy drought, which has forced disaster declarations across the province, was ‘the new normal’ amid challenging climate change patterns, according to Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. A Cape Argus report notes that, addressing big business on the crisis last week, De Lille reiterated the municipality’s commitment to keeping a full blown water emergency at bay. De Lille said R22m has been allocated for ‘first-line response teams’ in an event of water faults. Another R315m has been budgeted for emergency schemes for three years. ‘Climate change means there is no more normal – we have seen that the rain will not come as it used to with our lowest rainfall on record in 100 years over the past two winters,’ she said. De Lille urged the municipality’s 4m consumers to make ‘a drastic change’ in their water use. The city was also reviewing its 30-year water plan ‘to give greater consideration to climate change,’ the report states.
Thee City of Cape Town has urged consumers to limit their water use to drinking, bathing and cooking. According to another Cape Argus report, in what it called ‘a critical warning’, the mayoral committee yesterday (Monday) implored the city council to immediately implement Level 4 water restrictions, which would entail a ban on the use of all municipal water for outside and non-essential purposes. The emergency comes as collective dam levels continue to drop – they are effectively at just over 11% capacity this week. ‘Rain or shine, we are now at a point where all consumers must use below 100 litres a day,’ said mayco member for water services Xanthea Limberg. ‘We are essentially saying that you are only allowed to use a bit of water for drinking, cooking and washing,’ she said.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane gave a glimpse of the future when she opened a desalination plant in Richards Bay. According to a TimesLIVE report, costing R300m‚ Mokonyane said the plant was a huge step forward in dealing with acute water shortages in the region. ‘This will help about 150 000 households that need water in this area. Richards Bay and surrounding communities are to directly benefit from the sea water treated by the Richards Bay Desalination Plant‚’ she said. She said similar plants will be built in other provinces – and that the desalination of seawater was a preferred alternative to dams. The desalination plant at Richard Bay’s Alkantsrand Beach will produce 10 megalitres of water a day.
There is grim news from East London where more than 40 facilities in the Buffalo City Metro – including clinics, a hospital and various schools – recently failed critical water quality tests when the metro’s health department sampled their water. According to a Daily Dispatch report, the latest compliance status report on BCM’s water monitoring programme for public health facilities, tabled before council last week, revealed that between October and December, 46 water samples had failed to meet the required standard and were undrinkable. During the second quarter of the current financial year, 265 water samples were gathered and submitted for analysis. The council report showed how hospitals, clinics, schools, campsites and day care centres had failed to comply with the South African National Standards for drinking water. ‘This programme seeks to monitor the quality of water rendered by the water service authority and to advise on remedial actions,’ said the metro’s acting head of health, public safety and emergency services, Steve Terwin. ‘Moreover, it is to ensure the prevention of waterborne diseases within BCM’s area of jurisdiction as required by legislation,’ Terwin added. Staff shortages, Terwin wrote, prevented the expansion of the water monitoring programme.