Water & Waste (Cape Town), South Africa

Climate-Smart Utility Case Story

Over the past years, water supply in Cape town has been reliant on rain fed dams with management based on reconciling annual demand and supply system. Currently, the water supply system relies on six (6) large dams with a capacity of 900,000m3. Between 2015-2017, the city experienced three (3) consecutive years of low rainfall.

To overcome this drought period, the municipality of Cape Town managed to reduce their demand by 55% by adoption of the following measures. 1) managing dam levels by reducing demand to other sources of the dam usage and making information transparent on percentage usage for both domestic and agriculture purposes; 2) managing demand through effective communication, water restrictions at household level, tariff increment and pressure management; and 3) augmenting supply through projects to increase supply. To ensure Cape town stay more resilient to future droughts, they have developed a strategy which highlights commitment towards a future in which there will be sufficient water for all, and more resilient to climate and other shocks. It also considers the important yet complex relationships between water, people, the economy and the environment.

With the risk of climate change increasing the rainfall variability of the catchment, some of the lessons learned from this case as cited were the need to consider political influence during communication. Several campaigns were employed to communicate the occurrence of drought and advice given on how to use and manage water. Also, collaboration is considered very important and the case highlights the support received from partner organisations such as the World Bank on developing and reviewing their water plans.


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