A weird 0

Wandering downstairs in the semi-darkness this morning, I took a quick look at the rain gauge.

It’s broken.

There’s this odd “0” shape being displayed on the screen where there are usually the numbers of millimetres of rain. I’m going to have to have a look at the manual, because I can’t remember it doing this before.

More seriously, it is nice to have a day with no rain forecast to just try and make a start on drying everything (and I mean everything) out. We’ve had over 460mm of rain so far this month, versus the long term average of 175mm for the whole of June. It’s no wonder the rain gauge needs a break.

On the plus side, the dams are now sitting at 91.7% full (yesterday morning, before yesterday’s rain and before all the run-off form all the other rain).

That rather erect worm means that we’re looking good for a water restriction-free summer, although the best time to save water is when you have water, and with this on the way, maybe caution is the sensible option.

But for now, go and enjoy the sunshine ahead of the (showers tomorrow and the) next cold front early next week.

Dam good news

Cape Town’s dam levels, so often the cause of local panic, have finally risen above the percentages from this time last year. And while last year wasn’t anything to write home about water level-wise, you have to start somewhere, and being almost 41 billion litres ahead of last June is a good place to begin.

Stat attack:
That weekly change of 5.7% represents an incredible increase of 51,200 Ml.
An average of more than 7 billion litres or 2800 Olympic sized swimming pools gained each day.

And with another two cold fronts quite literally just over the horizon, we could even be looking at exceeding the levels from this time in 2021, which would put us in the incredible position of having the highest June dam levels since 2014, when all that nastiness began.

Of course, much like electricity, the best time to save water is when you have water to save, so although a nice long hot shower might be just what you need right now, maybe think of the parched, dry summertime some way ahead, and just limit yourself to a couple of minutes for the greater good.

Or better still, just stand outside for 30 seconds on Wednesday evening. Your call.

Summer rains

Good news for the farmers amongst us. Some (or more) good rain expected over the next two weeks.

I don’t want to ruin anyone’s summer, but we always knew that a bit of dampness was always going to be more likely this time around:

And I have no problem with some free water for the garden and the dams. We got a whole 1mm on Saturday, and 5mm the Tuesday before that. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations, and I make that 6mm over the last few days. Not bad, but we could always do with a bit more: Cape Town’s dam levels are down to 62% – nothing to panic about, but we’d obviously much rather that they were a bit higher.

That said, I’m still not quite prepared to give up on summer just yet, so if we can have some lovely hot days in between the forecasted showers, that will also be good.

Moon on a stick stuff, I know. But if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Day 199 – Theewaterskloof revisited

It’s was 980 days ago that we went out to Theewaterskloof Dam to see for ourselves just how bad the drought facing Cape Town actually was.

Here’s my post from the day. And here are the images I took.

Today, we went back to Theewaterskloof Dam. And wow. What a difference a day 980 days makes.

Compare this from February 2018…

…with this from this morning:

Quite chuffed how close I managed to get those two images, given that it has been 2½ years and given that the place (thankfully) looks completely different.

Cape Town will always be threatened with water shortages, given the twin issues of rapid population growth and global climate change, but this is about as good as things could be and it was a truly heartening sight.

And yes, everyone knows that the dams are back up to 100% – I didn’t need to personally go out there and take this image to prove it. But we need these little wins right now, and this comparison very much fits that agenda.

I couldn’t get the drone up – the wind was blowing like a overenthusiastic lady on Kenilworth Main Road – but there will be more photos to follow.

I’ll let you know.

UPDATE: Here you go: photos.

Level 3 Water Restrictions For Cape Town

Yep. “Just” 11 months after putting the Level 2 water restrictions in place, and with a disappointingly dry winter behind us, the City’s Mayco has approved the implementation of Level 3 restrictions from 1st November 2016. That’s because you and I haven’t saved enough water this year.
Victim-blaming hat on:

Cape Town residents as a whole did not achieve the consistent 10% reduction in water use that was mandated from 1 January 2016. If we continue to use water as we did on Level 2 restrictions over the coming summer months, the dams are at risk of falling to 15% by the end of the summer period. Following on, if we experience poor rainfall next rainy season, we could find our dams at approximately 50% this time next year.

The dam levels have slipped slightly again this week – their second successive weekly fall, and although it’s not by much, it’s still not by much the wrong way. Unless something dramatic happens, our “high” at the end of winter will have been a worrying 62.5%.

Chez 6000, we’ve already been washing with a bucket on the shower floor to collect the “spare” grey water, which then goes on the garden each morning. But apparently it’s simply not been enough.
“SO MANY BUCKETS THOUGH!!!!” he wailed.

In basic terms, what these means is that the more water you use, the more you will pay – at higher tariffs too, but if you can reduce your usage by 20%, you should pay no more than you are already paying (but for less water, obviously).
Oh – and there are some other really important additional new rules too:

 – Watering/irrigation (with drinking water from municipal supply) of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only if using a bucket or watering container. No use of hosepipes or automatic sprinkler systems is allowed.

– Cars and boats may only be washed with water from buckets.

– Manual topping up of swimming pools is allowed only if pools are fitted with a pool cover. No automatic top-up systems are allowed.

– No portable play pools are permitted to be used.

What remains to be seen is whether any of this will be policed or whether the city will simply rely on those higher bills to deter excessive water usage. Since that approach evidently didn’t work on the Level 2 restrictions, I wonder if they will actually be doing something about people not obeying the rules this summer?