‘Will day zero arrive?’ – Parly committee wants to know

Parliament's Water and Sanitation Committee's acting chair Patrick Chauke says clarity is needed around the prospect of day zero in Cape Town.

The water level of the Theewaterskloof Dam near Cape Town dropped to around 30 percent in March 2016. It is the largest of five major dams supplying drinking water to the city. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The head of Parliament's Water and Sanitation Committee wants a straight answer to the question on every Capetonians’ lips - will day zero arrive?

Acting chairperson Patrick Chauke says this must be known by the end of Wednesday's sitting which includes ministers, representatives from the Western Cape and Eastern Cape governments and Agri-SA.

Day zero is currently forecast for 11 May, which is almost a month later than the forecast of 16 April last week.

Chauke says clarity is needed around the prospect of day zero in Cape Town.

Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says the water crisis stems from resources being overused in a short space of time without the control and management of demand.

“We can avoid that possibility if we manage the demand by adhering to the restrictions and ensuring that they apply particularly to the big water users.”

The Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape have already declared provincial disasters.

Meanwhile, Minister of Cooperative Governance Des Van Rooyen says work is on track to enable him to declare a national disaster by March.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson says it can't be said for sure that day zero will be avoided in Cape Town.

He's told the Water and Sanitation Committee that this is only possible if the city reduces its water supply to 450 million litres a day.

As the water situation becomes direr in the city, Premier Helen Zille is meeting with Mokonyane on Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Water stricken municipalities have been briefing Parliament on what they are doing to counter the water scarcity.

Over the last year, Cape Town has more than halved its daily water consumption but Neilson says it’s necessary to drop water usage even further.

“Everything is in place for us to avoid day zero but that is absolutely dependent on the people of the city working together with us to get it done.”

Although the high cost of desalination has led the city to focus its attention on groundwater extractions, Neilson says the City of Cape Town is looking at acquiring a large-scale desalination plant to improve the city’s water resilience.

Forecast drawdown from dams in the coming months as Cape Town faces a water crisis.