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Drought-stricken farmers to be prioritised, says WC govt

The department has spent a combined R59 million on drought relief for farmers over the 2016/17 financial year.

Tree stumps and sand lie on what used to be the bottom of the Theewaterskloof Dam. Picture: Bertram Malgas/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Agriculture Department has reiterated that drought-stricken farmers will be prioritised as it tries to manage the water shortage.

The department has spent a combined R59 million on drought relief for farmers over the 2016/17 financial year.

A further R5 million will be spent on managing issues such as avian flu, which has been detected among ostriches in some parts of Oudtshoorn.

The chairperson for the provincial government's standing committee on agriculture's Beverley Schafer says: "We call on all farmers in the Western Cape to be vigilant in the face of the virus, as it now survives through the dry and warm winter months – a direct result of an increase in regional temperatures due to climate change."

WATER PLAN

Last week, the city revealed plans to access five hundred million litres of water per day through various non-surface water sources.

About R3 billion will be spent on implementing the first phase, which is groundwater extraction and land-based desalination plants.

Mayor Patricia de Lille says they have issued 21,500 households with warning letters.

She says although Cape Town will not run out of water due to extensive contingency plans, water consumption needs to decrease.

De Lille says while the city is contemplating the implementation of level 5 water restrictions, water shedding will not be necessary.

“Due to the advanced pressure management, there may be occasions where properties in high-lying areas up the hill and various supply zones will be without water for shorter periods.”

The city hopes to reach its water consumption target of 500 million litres per day with the help of water management devices being installed at high consumption households across Cape Town.

Cape Town is currently implementing level 4b water restrictions, the highest level that it currently has.

Under level 4b restrictions, municipal drinking-quality water may not be used for outside and non-essential purposes, which includes the washing of vehicles and topping up of swimming pools.

Residents must also reduce their water consumption to less than 87 litres, per person, per day.

At this stage, it is not clear what level 5 water restrictions will entail.

WATCH: De Lille: Cape Town's water supply safe

Additional reporting by Monique Mortlock.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)