16/05/2017 12:12 SAST | Updated 16/05/2017 12:12 SAST

'This Is Not A Drill': Cape Town Issues Drought Crisis Warning

Dam levels are effectively at 11.2% as much of the remaining water is unusable.

Water reserves in Cape Town are dangerously low and the City has issued a critical warning to all users to cut all "non-essential" use of water.

Dam levels continue to decline amid persisting drought and high consumption levels above the City's set targets.

Storage levels are at 21.2%, down 0.8% from a week ago, the City of Cape Town's media office has said. Approximately 10% of the remaining water reserves, however, are unusable which means dam levels are "effectively at 11.2%".

The City's Mayoral Committee is expected to recommend Level 4 water restrictions be implemented from Tuesday which would impose a ban on "all use of municipal water for outside and non-essential purposes".

Come "rain or shine", Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Setllements, Water and Waste Services Xanthea Limberg says the City has reached a point where all consumers must consume less than 100 litres per day. "Stop flushing toilets when not necessary, shower for less than two minutes a day or use a wet cloth for a 'wipe-down'," she said.

According to Water Wise, a single seven-minute shower (using up to 15 litres per minute) would alone require 105 litres.

'Naming and shaming'
The City in February released a list of the 100 highest water consumers in the city whose collective consumption was approximately 25 million litres per month. Some of the highest users were concentrated in affluent areas including Bishop's Court and Constantia.

Total consumption in Cape Town in February had increased to 837 million litres per day above the City's targets of 700 million litres per day.

The current consumption target is now 600 million litres per day and the latest figures, according to the City, show overconsumption of 118 million litres producing total collective usage of of 718 million litres per day.

'Use water only for drinking, washing and cooking'
Limberg says the "only real immediate intervention is to cut usage" and has appealed to individuals and business to urgently reduce consumption.

The City has advised residents to observe the following:

  • Only flush the toilet when necessary. Don't use it as a dustbin. 'If it's yellow let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down'

  • Take a short 2-minute shower. A standard (non-water-saving) showerhead can use as much as 16 litres per minute.

  • Collect your shower, bath and basin water and re-use it to flush your toilet, and for the garden and cleaning. So-called grey water use has some health and hygiene risks you must avoid. Keep hands and surface areas sanitised/disinfected.

  • Defrost foods in the fridge or naturally rather than placing it under running water.

  • Use a cup instead of running taps in the bathroom or kitchen, for brushing teeth, shaving, drinking etc.

  • Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. The rinse water from some washing machines can be reused for the next wash cycle.

  • Switch to an efficient showerhead which uses no more than 10 litres per minute, as per the City's by-law.

  • Upgrade to a multi-flush toilet and/or put a water displacement item in the cistern which can halve your water use per flush.

  • Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce flow to no more than 6 litres per minute, as per the City's by-law.

Further information on the City of Cape Town's water restrictions can be accessed on the City's website: