Only 100 Days of water for Cape Town

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Only 100 Days of water for Cape Town

Possible Level 3b water restrictions as of 1 February 2017!

This article is about the water restrictions imposed in early February 2017. But as of 2 July 2018, dam levels have improved significantly, so much that the City believes that current conditions warrant a relaxation of the restrictions. There’s little change on Day Zero until 2020: Read the Latest Cape Town dam level update, including Theewaterskloof dam.


Last Updated: 20 January 2017

Cape Town will have to intensify water restrictions as a result of waning dam levels and constant water use above the daily water usage targets.

The Mother City’s dam levels are expected to dip to around 20% in the next few months with some experts warning that the city has just enough water for the next 100 days. Most residents have complied to the call to save water, acting in a selfless manner to ensure that their usage is kept at a limit.

“Sadly, this cannot be said about all of our residents with  our water usage being consistently above the target. We will continue to take action against these culprits and will target the City’s top 20 000 high water users – the majority of whom reside in formal areas of the metro. We are committed to bringing this group to the forefront. They are scuppering all of our efforts to bring down water usage,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg.

Councillor Xanthea Limberg

“We must remember that formal residential consumers are by far the biggest users of potable water in the municipal area, consuming approximately 70% of the total water supplied. In winter, residential consumption levels are substantially lower. Therefore, if residents could use water how they would in the rainy winter season, the current consumption would definitely go down.”

Cape Town's dam levels are now at 42,5%! | Image Credit: SABC News

According to experts, there will be severe effects in both the short term and long term if dams reach critical levels.

Here are some of the consequences:

  • Poorer Quality Water - The quality of water deteriorates when it reaches such low levels.
  • Unemployment - When dam levels become dangerously low, farmers’ crops die as a result of drought – forcing  farmers to lay off staff to keep costs down.
  • Health Problems - The droughts will have social impacts like health problems related to low water flows and poor quality water, health problems related to dust, reduced incomes and fewer recreational activities.
  • Lack of Food and Rising Prices - We can expect food price hikes. Produce under severe strain includes wheat, maize, beef, sheep and sugar.
  • Drought Refugees - Experts say that in the wake of a drought, population migration follows as people uproot in search of food and water.
  • Boreholes - Boreholes are sunk as a result of poor water supply. Groundwater extraction can, however, have negative impacts such as land sinking, saltwater intrusion and drop in water quality.

New restrictions, if adopted by Council, will include the following:

Level 3

Level 3b

Watering/irrigation (with drinking water from municipal supply) of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only if using a bucket or watering can. No use of hosepipes or automatic sprinkler systems is allowed. Watering times are not restricted, however, residents are urged to limit their watering to the mornings and evenings.

Watering/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 09:00 or after 18:00 for a maximum of one hour per day per property and only if using a bucket or watering can. No use of hosepipes or any sprinkler systems allowed.

No watering/irrigation is allowed within 24 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Facilities/customers making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well-points are not exempt.

No watering/irrigation is allowed within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Facilities/customers making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well-points are not exempt.

Washing (using potable water) of vehicles and boats only is allowed if using a bucket.

No washing of vehicles or boats using municipal drinking water is allowed. Vehicles and boats must be washed with non-potable water or washed at a commercial carwash.

Further to the above:

  • No washing of vehicles, including taxis, using municipal drinking water at transport interchanges will be allowed.
  • No more irrigation using potable water will be permitted at City facilities.
  • No increase of the indigent water allocation over and above the free 350-litres a day will be granted, unless through prior application and permission for specific events such as burial ceremonies.

Customers should note that water pressure may be reduced to limit water leaks and that slight changes in water taste and clarity may occur due to low dam levels. For further information, residents can visit our water restrictions page on the website: Customers can also contact the City via email to for queries or to report contraventions.

By Garth Prins


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