Windhoek worries over water, while Cape Town crisis leads to crackdown

By AT editor - 6 August 2017 at 4:35 am
Windhoek worries over water, while Cape Town crisis leads to crackdown

The City of Cape Town’s water woes continue, with supply in the dam system still at critical levels – but it’s not the only city in southwest Africa to struggle with water usage during the ongoing drought.

In Namibia, despite the fact that the city of Windhoek had seen improvement, water consumption spiked at the end of July, according to city spokeswoman Lydia Amutenya.

That’s a red flag for officials trying to keep the taps from running dry, and despite an optimistic outlook for the next two years, Windhoek warns that another water crisis may be looming.

“Exorbitant consumption, even at this early stage, will inevitably lead to the early depletion of water stocks and increase the likelihood of another water crisis,” Amutenya said in a statement last week, urging residents to stay on the Windhoek water management plan. The rapidly growing city of about 400,000 people is home to about one in six of Namibia’s overall 2.5 million population.

Meanwhile, in neighboring South Africa, Cape Town officials began last week to install flow controls at addresses where compliance with strict conservation measures has failed.

“It is clear that water users are still taking chances with Cape Town’s collective future,” said the city’s Xanthea Limberg. July rainfall again remained far below average and city water users are failing to stay within the 500 million liter monthly target, with what amounts to a cap of 87 liters per day for each individual user.

With the end of winter approaching, officials are even more concerned about water supply and quickly looking to implement desalination and other solutions, including the control devices. It’s the first time the city has ever used the water management tool for any reason other than unpaid-bill situations.

“Our stubborn high users have received warning notices,” Limberg said. “We will be forcibly reducing the water use of those who cannot justify their high water usage.”

Cape Town recently rolled out a new calculator to help people understand how much water their daily tasks use, and to better balance that usage to stay within the 87-liter cap. The calculator is available online here.

Image: City of Cape Town

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