Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

The City of Cape Town is looking to upscale its efforts to secure new sources of temporary water supplies.

On Monday, the city which is facing severe water shortages despite recent winter rainfall, formally posted a request for ideas and information to the market, for proposed solutions that will enable the metro to temporarily establish several small, intermediate and possibly even large plants to supply potable water.

The critical water shortages have prompted fears that taps could soon run dry. The city issued a warning on Monday that dam levels remained critical, as consumption had spiked again. Furthermore, rainfall uncertainty remained high. Dam storage levels are at 23.1%, but because the last 10% of a dam’s water is useable, dam levels are effectively at 13.1%.

Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille said the city could not bank on there being sufficient rain in the remainder of winter to break the drought. It would take at least three consecutive winters of above-average rainfall to make a real difference to the availability of surface water, she said.

De Lille said it was hoped the request for ideas and information that was put to the market would enable the city to temporarily establish several small, intermediate and possibly even large plants to supply potable water.

"It is contemplated that these plants could use reverse osmosis, desalination, or similar technology from sea water, other surface water sources or treated run-off. The city is looking for solutions that can produce between 100-million litres and 500-million litres of potable water per day," De Lille said.

The city sought to gauge the interest of for-profit and non-profit entities in forming possible partnerships with the metro to supply, install and operate temporary plants at various locations along the sea shore and at certain inland locations, for the injection of potable water.

It is envisaged that the first plants would be available for production towards the end of August.

"The city would require these plants to be operational for at least six months, but might require the plants to be in operation for a longer period of time. The city will conduct regular water-quality tests at each of these sites," said De Lille.

Responses from the market will help guide the metro in determining the appropriate sourcing strategy in relation to future initiatives. The closing date for responses is July 10.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member responsible for water services, Xanthea Limberg, said due to the severity of the drought, above-target consumption, as well as the unpredictability of climatic conditions, level 4 water restrictions remained in place indefinitely over the long-term, and could be intensified if warranted.

The city has appealed to the courts for tougher action to assist with tackling noncompliance with water restrictions. The metro has managed to negotiate the maximum spot fine for a contravention and that it be raised to R5,000, R10,000 or even a prison sentence for serious or repeat offences, as per the new fine schedule for level 4 restrictions, Limberg said.

"All consumers must continue to use less than 100l per person per day in total, whether at work, home, school or elsewhere," she said.

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