Residents Warned To Obey Water Regulations Despite Restrictions Being Lifted

People collect water from Newlands Spring. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

The City of Cape Town has reminded residents there are still regulations to adhere despite a decision to lift water restrictions in November.

The reminder came as the City revealed that dam levels had seen a nominal decrease to 99.2%.

A statement from the City explained that the total capacity of dams supplying Cape Town decreased from 99.9% to 99.2% between 19 October and 25 October, showing a 0.7% drop from the previous week. Water consumption for the same period decreased by one million litres per day from an average of 718 million litres per day the previous week to 717 million litres per day. At the same time last year, dam levels were at 81.9%.

City mayco member for Water and Waste, Xanthea Limberg, said dam levels continue to border the 100% mark as they have dropped by less than 1% this past week.

“As communicated after the mayco meeting last week, following ongoing assessments and consultations, the City decided to lift water restrictions in Cape Town and to move to the lowest tariff, being the no restriction, water-wise tariff from 1 November 2020.”

These Are the Regulations That Still Apply :
  • Watering is only allowed before 9am or after 6pm. This applies to watering with drinking water or borehole or well point water.
  • Hosepipes used for watering or washing vehicles, boats and caravans must be fitted with a controlling device such as a sprayer or automatic self-closing device.
  • Automated sprinkler systems must be able to be correctly positioned and be able to be adjusted to prevent water wastage.
  • Boreholes and well point water must be used sparingly and efficiently.
  • Commercial car wash industries must comply with industry best practice norms regarding water usage per car washed.
  • All swimming pools must be covered by a pool cover to avoid evaporation when not in use.
  • Automatic top up systems using a float valve fed from a potable water source to supply swimming pools and garden ponds is not allowed.
  • No washing or hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas with municipal drinking water allowed.
  • Water users, such as abattoirs, food processing industries, care facilities, animal shelters and other industries or facilities with special needs (health/safety related only) must apply for exemption.
  • Potable water may not be used to dampen building sand and other building material to prevent it from being blown away.
  • Taps and showers provided in public facilities must be fitted with demand type taps.
  • Outdoor taps, except those on residential properties, must be secured to prevent unauthorised use.
  • The maximum flow rate of any showerhead may not exceed seven litres per minute.
  • The maximum flow rate of any tap installed at a washbasin may not exceed six litres per minute.
  • New or replaced toilet cisterns may not exceed six litres in capacity.

Limberg was joined by Executive Mayor Dan Plato and Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson, to discuss Cape Town’s water outlook at a media briefing at the Wemmershoek Dam on Tuesday.

Plato said in the span of six short years, dams supplying Cape Town went from full, to almost drying due to a lack of rainfall.

“It took about three years for the dams to recover to once more overflowing, which was a result of changes in water usage, savings and rainfall. During this time, we all learnt harsh lessons about the finite nature of water availability, the unpredictability of rainfall and the reality of a changing climate.

“The City’s Water Strategy was drafted during the peak of the drought and sets out plans to accelerate the development of new water sources to increase available water supply by 300 million litres per day over the next 10 years and reduce the reliability on surface water and risks associated with it.”

Plato said the City’s partners in business, including the hospitality and retail sectors played an important role in the fight to avoid Day Zero.

“Given that we are now in a much stronger position than we were a couple of years ago, and the urgency of the crisis has eased, I would like to now invite these establishments to replace their drought crisis signs with water-wise information to remind residents and visitors to use water responsibly,” he said.

The City’s New Water Programme Includes:
  • The Table Mountain Group Aquifer is already providing 15 million litres of groundwater to our water supply per day and construction has commenced on the Cape Flats Aquifer Scheme.
  • A permanent desalination plant is still in the planning phase and is provisionally scheduled for completion around 2026/27. The cost of a permanent desalination plant is currently estimated at approximately R1,8 billion and will produce approximately 50 million litres per day.
  • Alien vegetation clearing: Extensive clearing of thirsty invasive alien vegetation within our catchment and on City-owned land has been under way for a number years. Not only is this a relatively quick and affordable intervention, saving billions of litres of water, but it has also provided local work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). A lot of work will continue to go into strengthening partnerships with all land owners and custodians of land in our catchment areas to ensure we all eradicate alien vegetation.
  • The City is working towards implementation of a large-scale water reuse scheme by 2026. This will help enable the most beneficial use of our scarce resources.

“Our Water Strategy commits the City to not only becoming water resilient, but also to provide a service for all which includes improving water and sanitation services in informal settlements, and to transform our relationship with water by becoming a water sensitive city,” said Limberg.

She said the City is expecting a slight increase in consumption levels following the easing of water restrictions.

“Building resilience against climate change, which has to now be accelerated, comes at a cost. Misperceptions around the fixed part of the water tariff persist, mainly around the permanent nature of this component of the tariff,” Limberg explained.

“The introduction of the fixed part of the tariff was needed to ensure reliability of income regardless of how much water is used. It is not a penalty or a drought charge. Such a charge was never approved by Council so it never came into effect.”

What Residents Need to Know About Water Tariffs:
  • City water costs on average 4 cents per litre in comparison to R10 per litre for shop-bought bottled water.
  • Based on the first 10 500 litres of water used and a 15mm metre connection, the average bill will be R411,99 on the no restriction, water-wise tariff. This is compared with R785,38 under the Level 6B tariff at the peak of the drought.
  • The City’s water tariff, like some other metros, has a usage and a fixed part and it forms the total water tariff that covers the cost of providing water. This includes the maintenance of infrastructure and making sure Cape Town is resilient by adding new sources to its water supply and becoming a water-sensitive city.
  • The cost of providing the service remains largely the same regardless of how much or how little water is used, or how full the dams are.
  • Residents who are registered as indigent do not pay the fixed part of the water tariff and receive a free allocation of water monthly.
  • Water restrictions are lifted under this level but permanent regulations as outlined in the Water By-law still apply, regardless of the restriction level, because Cape Town is situated in a water-scarce region.

More information can be found at


  1. … and I ask

    Why has the WC and national government not invest in desalination plants?

    You would think that intelligent politicians would at the very least look at affordable ways to generate cheaper consumption of water, apart from hoping to dear God enough rain will fall to keep filling the dams!

    #dosomething #everheardofdesalination #sackallpoliticians #reboot #genoegisgenoeg

  2. Has anyone asked the local and national government why they have not invested in desalination plants? Who is holding the WC government to account?

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