Statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development
16 February 2017
Statement by Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell.
WC Water and fires update
The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre has tabled a disaster management plan for the ongoing drought afflicting the province to the Western Cape cabinet.
Anton Bredell, the minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape, says the province is taking no chances with the ongoing drought.
“The plan sets out several mitigation suggestions and other recommendations for long term water sustainability. This includes investigating whether it is necessary to recommend the classification of further disaster areas in the province. At present there are five municipalities that have been declared local disaster areas.”
Bredell addressed the Cape Town Press Club on Thursday afternoon.
Status across the Western Cape
Two districts, the Eden and Overberg districts, currently has sufficient water for the next four to six months.
In the Central Karoo district, all towns currently depend either solely or partially on borehole-water.
In the West Coast District Municipality all municipalities have instituted severe water restrictions and some of the municipalities continue to rely on the Clanwilliam dam which is around 45% full.
The Cape Winelands municipalities broadly adhere to the same water restrictions as the City of Cape Town and are implementing strict water restrictions.
From the province’s side some of the additional interventions that have been done to alleviate water stress includes:
Ø R60 million in fodder relief for the agriculture sector.
Ø R22million transferred to municipalities for augmentation including new boreholes and infrastructure upgrading.
Ø The department of Local Government has budgeted a further R34 million for the MTEF period to address drought concerns across the province.
Ø An additional R3.5m to be spent on alien clearing and rehabilitation in the water source areas of the Upper Breede catchment to make more water available.
Bredell says several long term plans are being finalized to address water challenges for the medium to longer term.
“Given rapid urbanization and inwards migration to the Western Cape, we expect an estimated 2 million more people to move into the province over the next 15 to 20 years. We must plan and implement now.”
The major options for increasing water supply in the Western Cape over the medium to long term are:
· The Berg River-Voëlvlei augmentation scheme which amounts to diverting surplus winter water into Voëlvlei Dam,
· fast-tracking the development of the Table Mountain Group Aquifer,
· water re-use, in other words, waste water treatment on a macro scale and
· seawater desalination
“Desalination should be one of the last options due to cost considerations. One study shows that for the City of Cape Town to build a 450 Megalitre per day desalination plant could cost approximately R15 billion excluding VAT. In addition, operating costs would be high. A 150 Megalitre per day plant may cost an estimated R386 million per year. The impact of such a huge cost on water tariffs may be significant. These studies are continuing.”
The biggest short-term opportunities in responding to the immediate water crisis, currently lies in non-revenue water reduction, private reuse and recycling, and water conservation and demand management investments.
“These types of plans and interventions are no silver bullets given the challenges we face, but there can be little doubt that the work being done will contribute significantly to addressing the water challenges,” Bredell says.
Bredell says the current wildfire season is proving to be very challenging.
“Ten years ago, the Western Cape experienced an estimated 12000 fires for the full year. Over the past three months alone, we have recorded 17000 fires across the province to date. This year we have 28 aircraft in action. We have also expanded our runways systems from five to 36 at the moment. This speaks to our ability to tackle a fire as swiftly as possible. 97% of all our fires are extinguished within the first hour,” says Bredell.
The Minister called on the public to continue to use water responsibly and to cooperate with the authorities in managing the situation over the coming months.
Spokesperson for the Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Anton Bredell
Mobile: 084 583 1670
Telephone: 021 483 2820