water stressed dams dam levels Misverstand Dam water drought day zero cape town
Photo Cred: Supplied

The total capacity of dams supplying the Cape Town metro increased by 0,6% in the last week, from 96,9% the previous week to 97,5%.


Western Cape, South Africa (04 August 2021) – Daily water consumption for the same period increased to 739 million litres per day, compared to 705 million litres the week before. At the same time last year, dam levels were at 77,8%

“Last week, on 26 July, due to a technical error in the City’s water dashboard, it was reported that dam levels stood at 97,5%, we apologise for the error. Actual dam levels last Monday were 96,9%.”

As dam levels have been increasing following substantial rainfall recently, some residents might be questioning whether water tariffs can be lowered. It is important to keep in mind that the amount of water in our dams, which we share with several other municipalities, does not directly influence the cost of delivering the overall water and sanitation service.

The City appreciates that tariff structures can be tricky to understand, so would like to highlight the key points below.

  • The cost of providing the service remains largely the same regardless of how much or how little water flows through the system.
  • The service includes the treatment and scientific quality testing of water; operation, repairs and maintenance of infrastructure; and transport and treatment of wastewater.
  • The amount to be recovered to fund the service however depends on how much water is used by the customers.
  • Many Cape Town residents have sustained the water-wise efficiencies developed during the drought, and as such, water costs more per kilolitre on average compared to the period before the drought.
    Post-drought tariffs also need to absorb the cost of the New Water Programme (NWP), which aims to produce approximately 300 million litres (Ml) per day through groundwater abstraction, desalination and water re-use by 2030.
  • The NWP aims to build resilience to the effects of climate change, and future droughts, ensuring a safe, reliable water supply for generations to come.
  • The City does not budget for a profit from the sale of water and seeks to keep costs of service delivery as low as possible.
  • The water tariff is made up of a fixed part and a usage part. It is a model used by numerous municipalities all over the country and helps provide a reliable water service.
  • The fixed/variable tariff model helps stabilise revenue streams so that the impact of variations in consumption are reduced to the benefit of operations and maintenance programmes.
  • If the fixed portion of the tariff model was removed, the usage part of the tariff will need to be increased significantly to compensate.
  • Residents who are registered as indigent do not pay the fixed part of the water tariff and receive a free allocation of water monthly.

More information about the City’s Water Strategy can be found here: http://www.capetown.gov.za/general/cape-town-water-strategy

Sources: City of Cape Town 
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