(Hello Africa) Water conservation awareness runs deep in Cape Town-Xinhua

Cape Town, a water-scarce city in South Africa, is studying fog harvesting on the iconic Table Mountain to determine if it is a viable option for increasing water supply.

CAPE TOWN, March 23 (Xinhua) — At Newlands Spring in Cape Town, local resident Lenore Fuller went out on Saturday morning to fill her buckets of water. It’s a habit she’s established since 2018 when a water crisis hit and people had to queue for hours for water as city taps were on tap. to dry up.

Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa and the oldest city with more than 3.7 million inhabitants, in 2018 faces a difficult situation that it could be the first city in the world to run out of water after a three-year drought led to a low capacity of dams that supply the city.

The water crisis reminded Fuller that she has to be careful with water. Her family continues to use cisterns at home to collect water from the roof for non-essential purposes and fill the pool with rainwater, she said.

A worker shows a filter of water tanks at a car wash station in Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)

WAKE UP TO ALL

The water crisis has led to behavioral changes in water use and many people are still adopting water-saving behaviors today, Zahid Badroodien, a member of the city’s municipal committee, told Xinhua. Head for water and sanitation, in an interview at his office.

Day zero didn’t finally arrive after the city put in place the necessary infrastructure to monitor, manage and limit the water supply, promote behavioral changes and campaign to save water among tourists in using stickers, audio-visual means in tourist hotspots, with the cooperation of residents and businesses, according to the official.

For 32-year-old resident Cerise Rabie, the water crisis woke everyone up and made them aware of the need to save water.

“If we had done this (conserving more water) many years ago, we might never have ended up there, so I think that’s like a wake-up call, but it’s is quite scary to be in this space when you don’t know if the taps will have water tomorrow, where I’m going to get water, ”she said while waiting for her car to be washed at the center Commercial Access Park in the Kenilworth area.

She said that at home she always collects water in buckets, puts buckets of water outside if it rains, “trying to conserve as much water as possible”.

A person fills a jug with water at Newlands Spring in Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)

WATER-SAVING INSTALLATIONS STILL IN PLACE

A few meters from Rabie, two large cisterns with filters purchased by the car wash service in 2018 to collect rainwater and draw water from a borehole are still standing. As soon as the car wash attendant uses a certain amount of water from the municipal supply, he flips the lever to use water from the tanks, said Achmat Abrahams, the owner of the car wash service.

He recalled the “headache” days when his staff were forced to use the bucket and rag to wash cars instead of machines to avoid using the municipal water supply continuously. Despite the drawbacks, these days, whenever possible, they use the bucket and rag method instead of sprinklers, he said.

Due to the water crisis, the car wash service is committed to saving water as much as possible.

“You know, it was such a terrible time in 2018, 2019. And we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again here,” he said. “We know and understand that in this industry we use a lot of water, so we’re in a position where we can actually do something about that.”

During the water crisis, Cape Town’s tourism industry, including hotels and guesthouses, was very responsible and helped the city save water, Badroodien said. In Newlands, the Vineyard Hotel’s two-century-old gray water system, installed after the onset of the drought, was still functioning. A sticker stated that the system saved up to 6,000 liters of water per day and flushed up to 190 toilets per day.

A worker washes a car at a car wash in Cape Town, South Africa, March 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Lyu Tianran)

According to Chris Van Zyl, environmental manager of the hotel, this system collects water from showers and sinks and uses it to flush the toilets. More than that, the hotel continues to use low-flow showerheads, restrict faucets, use treated bore water, he said.

“At the moment, we are doing everything we can and constantly monitoring water consumption to make sure there are no major leaks,” he told Xinhua.

PREVENTING ANOTHER ZERO DAY

Cape Town relies on dams and surface water for water supply, and due to good rainy spells the dams have already reached 100% filling in 2020 and 2021, meaning the city is in a state of very safe in terms of water supply. Badroodien, however, believes the town cannot simply rely on these sources and much work and investment has been undertaken since the end of the last drought to secure an additional water supply.

“Cape Town is a water-scarce city…it would be irresponsible of me to say that we don’t expect another drought to occur,” the senior water official said.

The city’s new water program aims to provide 300 million liters of water per day by 2030 through groundwater capture, desalination and reuse.

According to Badroodien, a project for a permanent desalination plant, which is in the public tender process, is one of the largest water supply projects in the coastal city. The municipality is also planning to use the city’s aquifers by investing 2.6 billion rand (about 170 million US dollars) in the Cape Flats aquifer project, drilling boreholes and purifying groundwater for make it drinkable.

The city is also considering the reuse of water, with the construction of certain infrastructures. It plans to build a reuse plant to purify wastewater transferred from sewage treatment facilities and raise its quality to drinking water standards.

Many small projects are also underway. On the iconic Table Mountain, the city is studying fog harvesting to determine if it is a viable option for increasing water supply.

Badroodien was confident that the city will be ready for another drought with the preparedness being undertaken while encouraging people to continue to be water wise as they are always responsible for water use.

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