News / South Africa

Steven Tau
2 minute read
6 Feb 2017
6:53 am

Western Cape’s drought situation ‘worrying’

Steven Tau

Despite residents’ efforts to reduce water consumption in the province, the persistent dry weather was not helping.

A picture shows vegetation burning in a bush fire in the mountains on the Cape Peninsula, on March 2, 2015, in the greater Cape Town area. Five houses and an upmarket hotel were destroyed and dozens of people evacuated from their homes as wildfires raged through Cape Town's scenic southern peninsula. AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH

The Western Cape provincial government hopes the imminent rainy seasons will bring heavy downpours. Spokesperson for the local government, environmental affairs and planning department, James Brent Styan, told The Citizen the province’s drought situation was worrying.

“We have five areas that have been declared disaster drought areas from a year ago and the rest of the province remains very dry, including the City of Cape Town, Prince Albert and the Winelands,” Styan said.

Last Monday, dams in the province were – on average – 37% full. Despite residents’ efforts to reduce water consumption in the province, the persistent dry weather was not helping, Styan said. The rainy season in the Western Cape is during South Africa’s winter season.

“The other concern we have is what happens if we have a bad rainy season? We hope things will change,” he said. “We also hope for a cold winter season, which will bring with it lots of snowfall. “This will come in handy as far as raising the dangerously low dam levels, when it starts melting.”

Various municipalities have since implemented water restrictions. The City of Cape Town has recently tightened the screws on the already-in-place level 3 restrictions. The level 3B restrictions come as a result of water usage targets not being met, combined with the low rainfall.

Level 3 tariffs remain applicable for the level 3B water restrictions. With the level 3B water restrictions, watering or irrigation (with municipal drinking water) of flower beds, lawns, vegetables and other plants, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 9am or after 6pm for a maximum of one hour per day per property, and only if using a bucket or watering can.

No use of hosepipes or sprinkler systems is allowed. Also, watering or irrigation is prohibited within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation.

Meanwhile, the South African Weather Service expected the Western Cape to remain mostly dry for the better part of this week.