Picture: 123 RF / BORGOGNIELS
Picture: 123 RF / BORGOGNIELS

Capetonians will soon be permitted to increase their water usage from 50 litres to 70 litres per person per day.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson made the announcement on Monday.

After a devastating drought‚ the province’s dams are now at 68% storage capacity due to good rainfall at the beginning of winter.

"Water restrictions and the associated tariffs are thus to be conservatively lowered in the interim to level 5 from October 1 2018. This will bring tariff relief of between 26.6% and 70% per kilolitre of water‚ depending on the usage and tariff category‚" he said.

Neilson said the Western Cape Water Supply System’s dams were at 38% capacity at the end of the last winter.

He said the recent drought was "so uncommon that it only has an estimated return period of 311 years".

Rainfall remains highly variable‚ and while May and June had rainfall close to the average‚ July had very poor rainfall. This improved somewhat in August‚ with the positive trend continuing in September.

"The relaxation of restrictions is a moderate proposal that is based on a hydrological risk assessment that indicates that it is safe to do so at the level of risk that is agreed upon," Neilson said.

"Of course‚ the amended level 5 restriction guidelines for water usage will apply and we are confident that the significant behavioural change that we’ve seen pertaining to water conservation will prevail to a large extent.

"The city believes‚ with the full support of the other catchment users‚ such as other municipalities and the agricultural sector‚ that an interim adjustment is fully justified and appropriate at this stage."

The move from the current level 6B restrictions to level 5 restrictions from October means:

• An increase in the personal water use limit from 50 litres per person per day to 70 litres per person per day.

• A resetting of the overall city water-usage target from 450-million litres a day to 500-million litres a day.

• A relaxation of restrictions for commercial and industrial water users from a 45% reduction to a 40% usage reduction.

• A lowering of tariffs to level 5 tariffs.

Eastern Cape

In the Eastern Cape, meanwhile, snowy‚ wet conditions seen at the weekend will provide much-needed relief from a dry spell.

Port Elizabeth weather forecaster Garth Sampson was quoted on Algoa FM as saying that gauges in the province’s dams were slowly rising.

The Krom and Krakeel rivers‚ both of which flow into Nelson Mandela Bay’s main supply dams‚ were in flood — and an unofficial reading late on Saturday put Churchill Dam at 62.5% capacity‚ up from below 20%.

Sampson said after being virtually empty two weeks ago‚ the Kouga dam stood at 19.93% capacity on Sunday‚ with millions of litres of water continuing to flow in.

In parts of the Langkloof 293mm of rain was measured.

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Monday morning‚ weather forecaster Bransby Bulo said it would remain partly cloudy in the Eastern Cape and over parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

“There is no rain expected though. It just remains cold over the areas close to the mountains after the weekend snow. We can still see some snow in the high lying areas in the provinces. The temperatures are cold‚ but there is no more snowfall.”

Cold temperatures are still gripping the northeastern parts of the country.

“The morning temperatures are still low in other parts of the country‚ but they are recovering‚” said Bulo. It would become warmer during the course of the week.