Spotlight on groundwater as Day Zero moves up 9 days

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Groundwater has become an increasingly important resource as Cape Town inches closer to Day Zero.

Dam levels have dropped by 1,4% this week, and unfortunately this means that Day Zero has moved closer by nine days, namely 12 April. The City is in the process of implementing “aggressive” pressure management operations and installing water management devices to properties with high water consumption.

SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: ‘Privileged Capetonian’s guide’ to the water crisis will have you laughing then crying

The plan for Day Zero, when the taps will be switched off and residents will have to queue for water, has still not been released by the City’s Disaster Risk Management team, who have delayed its release by another week.

“If we want this disaster plan to be adopted with as little risk and inconvenience as possible, we need to look at the local context of each water distribution point. We need to build flexibility into the design of this plan to ensure that we can address any contingencies as they arise,” the City says in a statement.

Although desalination and aquifer projects are underway, they won’t produce enough water to avoid Day Zero. Many residents have also turned to boreholes to help alleviate the water crisis, pumping straight from the City’s precious groundwater.

Although a nationalised resource that falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as well as governed by a municipality’s bylaws, use of groundwater has been left largely unmonitored, until recently.

On 12 January 2018, the DWS introduced a new rule that stipulate that boreholes must be metered and a weekly summary must be sent to the department for monitoring. New boreholes require a permit and you are not allowed to pump more than 400m3 per hectare per year in Cape Town – which is about 1000 litres a day – though this may be reduced the closer we get to Day Zero.

 

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