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Cape Town nearing its water supply limit

CAPE TOWN — The available water for Cape Town will be fully utilised by 2019 as a result of both population and economic growth, the Department of Water Affairs said yesterday while calling for residents to save more water.

SA is a water-scarce country where, even when there is an abundance of water, it often cannot be used because of pollution such as acid mine drainage and E.coli contamination from leaking sewage plants.

The department said a maximum 556-million cubic metres of water were available in the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) each year and consumption last year topped 511- million cubic metres.

At current rates of consumption growth, the remaining 45- million cubic metres would be utilised by 2017-2019.

The actual timing of full water supply utilisation will be determined by the growth in the area and of water conservation.

The department complimented Cape Town for providing R60m in the current financial year for the upgrading of infrastructure and further measures to reduce water losses. Losses in Cape Town, measured as a percentage of water supplied as a fraction of water treated, have been reduced from 24,4% in February last year to 19,9% this February.

“Population growth and subsequent growth in the economy have been identified as major factors in placing exponential strain on the users in the WCWSS,” the department said.

The WCWSS includes Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Swartland and Saldanha.

Of the water available, 32% is used for agriculture irrigation and 68% for urban dwellers.

In the pipeline in the next month is the issuing of a tender for a feasibility study on a large-scale sea water desalination plant. Other possibilities include the re- use of water, and whether this would be cheaper than desalination because it uses less electricity. Also to be investigated is tapping into the ground water known as the Table Mountain aquifer on a sustainable basis.

Source: Business Day

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