The City of Cape Town is a leader in climate-change mitigation and adaptation and has, for more than a decade, been factoring in the occurrence of erratic climatic conditions as part of its planning processes (Irresponsible or deniers? August 8).
Cape Town is also part of numerous leading city bodies such as the C40 Cities, 100 Resilient Cities and the Global Covenant of Mayors due to our commitment and results in addressing climate change.
The drought we are experiencing is the most intense and protracted in recent history. Prior to its onset, the city was using water well under its registered allocation as per the Department of Water and Sanitation. Despite our population growth almost doubling since 1996, our water demand has remained relatively flat due to various water conservation and demand management actions. The city has been given a 97%-98% assurance of supply, meaning for 2%-3% of the time, during periods of limited rainfall, the implementation of water restrictions is standard and effective best practice.
As a proactive government, we have had water restrictions in place since 2005, that were intensified in December 2015 — going on 22 months ago. Climate change, most notably, adds significant uncertainty. The models are in flux. This means making some decisions in the context of unpredictability and while confidence in weather-prediction is low. Water scarcity is our new normal. We thus need a new relationship with water. Changing behaviour is perhaps our greatest challenge.
Resilience is one of the key principles included in our integrated development plan for 2017–22 and in March, the council approved the appointment of a chief resilience officer. We are developing a comprehensive resilience strategy and the first area of focus is water.
Xanthea LimbergCape Town mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services, and energy