Day 474 – Happily wet

It’s not quite 3½ years since I took these photos at Theewaterskloof Dam – or what should have been Theewaterskloof Dam, at least.

Back then, we were on the verge of Day Zero, about the be the first big city in the world to run out of water.

Today, Theewaterskloof Dam level stands at 101.1% full. That’s more full than it actually can be. How cool is that?

On the water front, at least, things are looking pretty good:

We don’t need to worry too much about the Steenbras twins, but it would be nice to see Voëlvlei join the vol vlei party (see what I did there?). Probably not, if you’re outside SA, and you’re probably better off for that.

Photos from our few days away are still being processed.
There are almost 1000 of them. It may take a while.

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.

Day 165 – Hasn’t it been wet?

Well, no. Not really.

Even though our dams are at a very healthy 95.6% of capacity…

… a far cry from the panic of literally running out of water not so very long ago, this has not been down to this being a particularly wet winter. In fact, this winter has been decidedly average.

graph from here

That’s the 8 months of 2020 so far in orange. Thankfully, not like 2011 (that’s the low line), but also definitely not like 2001 (that’s the very, very high line) either.

So yes, a few things like borehole augmentation, clearing of inflows and a reduction in alien vegetation around the dams will have helped, but it’s the fact that Capetonians are now using only just over half as much water each day as they used to which is making the biggest difference. We’re using just over 630 million litres per day, as opposed to the almost 1 billion litres per day prior to the nastiness of the drought in 2016-2018.

That’s a superb effort.

But…

One of the City’s methods of reducing water usage was to increase tariffs. This probably did have some effect, but now that the dams are nearly full for the first time in 6 years, isn’t it time to reduce those tariffs? The problem is that the City is selling much less water than it used to, while the efforts aimed at avoiding Day Zero two years ago were costly, and the plans to safeguard the city’s supply in a uncertain future doesn’t come for free.
Also, reduce the price of water and it stands to reason that consumption will go up again, which won’t help anyone, but might make up the shortfall in revenue.

Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg says:

Regarding tariffs: as previously stated, a reduction in tariffs will be dependent on an increase in consumption. Currently, the City is selling approximately 30% less water than before the drought, but is facing additional costs that come with increasing our resilience. It is important that the City cover its costs to ensure that the maintenance and augmentation programmes can be carried out. Should the amount of water we are selling significantly increase this will be factored into the tariffs, but given the uncertain impact of climate change it may not be wise to actively encourage such an approach at this stage.

So. Use less water so we don’t run out, but use more water so that it costs less, so that the City makes more money to make sure that they can replace the extra water you used because it was cheaper to use more water than when you were using less water.

 

Got it.

It’s still raining

I mentioned that today was going to be damp, and so it has proved.

The kids’ school postponed their annual Spring Fair because the weather was forecast to be awful, and it’s a good job they did. It’s been raining for about 12 hours now, it’s still raining, and we’re already approaching an incredible 100mm. The pool is overcapacity, the gutters overflowing, the drains overwhelmed and the beagle is, well… overall… actually rather unimpressed. It even refused to go out for a wee this morning, wandering up to the window before turning back to me with a look that very clearly said:

“Nooit, may bru. Are you jas?”

The beagle has been learning facial colloquial Afrikaans for a while now.

After a slow start, the catchment areas for the city water supply are now catching up a bit. Dwarsberg is up to about 70mm for the day, including almost 20mm in the last hour alone. It’s a nice little pre-summer top-up for the dams.

I’m due to go out to a farm near Montagu on a job next week, and I’m hoping that they’ve managed to get a bit of rain out there as well. It’s been dry and that’s not good for farming. (Neither is it good for me, by the way: that dust gets everywhere. Everywhere.)

I’m fairly convinced that today has been the wettest day of the year by some distance (in my garden at least). But I’d like things to brighten up for the weekend*, and then can we get into a bit more of a summery vibe, please?

Everything is soggy – including the beagle.

 

* forecast is for more rain on Sunday

Theewaterskloof not revisited

More amazing blogger professionalism here as I noted that it was (almost) a year ago when I took this group of pictures at the – then empty – Theewaterskloof Dam near Villiersdorp. Here’s the post.

It being (almost) one year on, it seems reasonable – essential, even – that I should return and do a comparison set of images. But I simply don’t have the time to fit that in, so you’ll just have to take my word for the fact that things are much improved from those worrying conditions of early February 2018. w

Today, Theewaterskloof stands at 48% full, compared to 14% when we visited last year. Overall, our dams are 62% full, compared to 27% this time last year. There are no worries about not having water in a couple of months time. All is good. All is moist.

There is a small, yet vocal, minority of individuals who still believe that the entire water crisis was simply a myth. They argue that it was merely a DA (our local ruling party) ploy to charge more money for water and to install Israeli-made water meters. There are two points that I would like to make to these people:

Firstly, that there is a small, yet vocal, minority of individuals who still believe that the moon landings were faked.
They are also wrong.

Secondly, supposing for just a moment that their allegations are correct (which they’re not); the sheer amount of effort to clandestinely remove billions and billions of litres of water over three years – enough to fool NASA (the same guys who faked the moon landings), prevent meaningful precipitation over a catchment area of 500 square kilometres (for Theewaterskloof alone) for 36 months and make news headlines worldwide surely deserves some sort of accolade?
Admit it: that is an incredible endeavour.

And for those thinking of switching their upcoming election vote away from the DA because of the way that they handled the crisis (and yes, it certainly wasn’t perfect), please make sure you choose to vote for a party which you genuinely believe could have managed it any better.
There’s suddenly not such a great selection any more, hey?