Drought relief, 10 litres at a time

In deep water: Large swaths of the Theewaterskloof reservoir near Villiersdorp are dry, as 
are other dams in the system that supplies water to the greater Cape Town area. (Halden Krog/dpa)

In deep water: Large swaths of the Theewaterskloof reservoir near Villiersdorp are dry, as are other dams in the system that supplies water to the greater Cape Town area. (Halden Krog/dpa)

With dry taps an imminent reality for the City of Cape Town, a former resident has started a campaign to get Johannesburg residents holidaying in the Mother City to take 10 litres of water with them.

#10LitresOfKindness organiser Shaun Harry said: “We know the Jo’burgers are going to Cape Town for the holidays and the city will already be under stress. So the sentiment is really about taking the water with you that you’ll use and kind of paying it forward.”

Companies and nonprofit organisations are also doing their bit to ease Cape Town’s water crisis, as an influx of tourists over the December holiday period will place even greater pressure on the city’s already limited water supply.

The city has moved forward the date it expects to run out of water — to May 18. In the past week water consumption increased from 611-million litres a day to 628-million litres, mayor Patricia de Lille warned.

Harry, the organiser of the famous Classique Cape Town Parties in Jo’burg, said a logistics company had offered to take water to Cape Town next week, ahead of the holiday rush.

“Our initial idea was to take water in a car and take it down. Then a logistics company stepped up and offered us space on the trucks. They basically said: ‘If you can collect the water, we can take it down.’ So the drop-off point is available on social media and it will be distributed from Schaap Kraal [Ottery] in Cape Town,” Harry said.

The city has enforced level five water restrictions, limiting individual daily use to 87 litres and two-minute showers, but De Lille said most residents have ignored this.

By the city’s current estimates, Cape Town dam levels will drop to 13.5% by May, and most taps will be switched off. Residents will then be reliant on about 200 water distribution points.

The city has seven “augmentation projects” underway to provide water during the drought. These include drilling boreholes in search of underground aquifers and building desalination plants along the coastline.

On Monday, relief aid group Gift of the Givers officially opened the taps of five new boreholes that supply two million litres of water to the Beaufort West reservoir every day.

Local companies did not charge for drilling the boreholes and testing the water quality.

De Lille warned that water use restrictions would probably continue until after the drought ends.

“We can only beat this drought if residents keep saving [water]. Even when new projects start yielding additional water, residents must not let up on saving water as it will take a few years for us to recover from the drought,” De Lille said in a statement.

Back in Johannesburg, technology company Siemens has called on passengers flying from OR Tambo International Airport to swap their carry-on luggage allowance for five litres of “guilt-free” water.

The Siemens Air Drop Initiative will send thousands of litres of water to Cape Town every day while the city implements its plans to recover from the water crisis, the company said.

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