Money not answer for Day Zero - Nomvula Mokonyane

Water minister says Capetonians are going to need to adapt

Money won't curb #DayZero, we must adapt - Mokonyane

Cape Town - Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says that throwing money at the looming #DayZero crisis is not the answer, but rather Capetonians need to adapt to the situation.

Mokonyane and deputy director general Trevor Balzer were addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Sunday on the prospect of the city running out of water in April.

Anxious citizens in the audience, which included Premier Helen Zille, listened to the pair as they explained the national department's role in curbing the crisis, due to hit the city in under three months.

"We must allay the fears of South Africans," Mokonyane said.

"Day Zero can be avoided if all of us become positive and move beyond politics and appreciate that the realities of climate change are upon us.

"It's not in throwing in money that the solutions will be found. We need to adapt; we need to prioritise, but most importantly, we need to adapt."

Mokonyane said the department will be offering financial support for some of the projects undergo in the city, once a full plan has been tabled.

'Behaviour the answer'

However, larger projects, such as the building of the Berg River Voëlvlei water scheme, has to be funded off-budget to be ready by the March 2021 date.

That project needs R750m to get off the ground. The Trans-Caledon Authority has been assigned the responsibility of finding the funds through other agreements.

In the short term, only behaviour can stave off the march of Day Zero until the city's augmentation projects kick in in May.

"We need to ensure that all water users in Cape Town have more information on how to save water, especially at household level, given that 70% of water is being used domestically.

"We need to ensure that everyone understands their role in saving water and that we don't place individual interests ahead of the rest of society."

They also needed to stop the fear mongering, and prove "the naysayers wrong".

What is the department doing?

In the short term, there is a four-pronged strategy now is to focus on desalination, groundwater optimisation, conservation and the re-use of water.

The Cape Flats and Atlantis aquifers should be ready to pump 25 megalitres (ML) by May, while the Table Mountain aquifer will be able to provide another 40ML by latest June.

Newlands Albion spring and Oranjezicht springs have been rerouted to the system to provide 4ML.

The department granted approval for three water use licences for groundwater programmes, in Steenbras, Cape Flats and Oranjezicht springs.

Water re-use points at Zandvlei and the Cape Flats will be ready by June 2018. The Macassar, Potsdam and Athlone points will only be ready by 2019.

In the medium term (after day zero), there will be extra pumping at Dasbos pump station, a transfer of water to Eikenhof Dam to Steenbras Dam and a desalination plant will be erected "some time this year".

The long-term plans include the finishing of the Berg River Voëlvlei scheme, a Michell's Pass diversion, and a transfer from the Palmiet pumped storage scheme. There will also be diversions from the Upper Wit River and the Molenaars River.

These however are all projects to be completed post-2020.

Ramaphosa input

Mokonyane has also been in contact with new ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des van Rooyen on the matter.

Ramaphosa promised this past week, while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, that there would be an intervention in the Cape.

Mokonyane also praised the role the City of Cape Town has played in collaborating with them and mobilising the centre. Under mayor Patricia de Lille, Mokonyane admitted they had "done everything" they could up until this point.

The minister finished with the main point of her speech - Capetonians can get through Day Zero if they adjust their habits, and work together without spreading panic and anger.

"Water users in Cape Town are still using more water than their rightful allocation.

"Agriculture and industry need to make use of innovations and household consumers should be provided with practical tips on how to reduce and re-use water.

"All users need to play their part to reduce water."