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.

Run and rain

First run in a couple of weeks this morning. Not all of me wanted to help out. My legs and my lungs (two parts which I have always felt are fairly integral to successful running) were particularly uncooperative and I am already pretty sure that the former are planning an agonising protest for tomorrow morning. But you don’t get anywhere without putting in a bit of effort and while today’s 6km might have taken rather longer than perhaps it should, it did still get done.

All of which brings me neatly to last night. Football last night did not get done. One minute it was on, the next, there was a downpour and the courts were underwater and the game was called off. I took the kids to the trampoline park instead and we counted all the holes in the roof as I preemptively planned our evacuation route.

But there was a lot of rain. The last 24 hours gave us 70mm at Kirstenbosch and an absolutely incredible 186.9mm at Dwarsberg – slap bang in the middle of our dam catchment areas. Kapow.

Those of you who have followed this blog over the last few years really need your heads checking will recognise what really huge news this is.

But it seems that we don’t always realise just how lucky we are. The complaints about the winter weather in Cape Town seem to have been more vocal and numerous than usual [anecdotal observation]. But this weather is just the Old Normal. We haven’t had a proper Cape Winter for a few years now, which almost cost us our city. But it also retrained our memories into thinking that what happened last night and over the last few weeks is unusual or abnormal. It’s not. That is exactly how winters used to be prior to 2016. Grey, cold, windy, wet. Who could forget the warnings we used to be given?

The severe cold, wet and windy conditions expected to spread eastwards across the Western and Northern Cape provinces this weekend could be fatal for livestock and dangerous for humans, the Cape Town Weather Office warned yesterday.
Forecaster Carlton Fillis said rainfall of up to 50mm, combined with gale-force winds and temperatures of below 15C, was especially dangerous for livestock such as goats. People should also be careful.

Always take care of your goats. Always.

Rain a week away?

I’m not sure how good these two week forecasts are (save perhaps to say that so far, this one has been bang on), but this image, shared by ‘Agricultural Economist’ Wandile Sihlobo¬†seems to give us a bit of good news:

That little red spot at the bottom of the second picture is the promise of decent, heavy, significant rain for that second week of August.

If the previous forecast was accurate, then we can even say that that potential rainfall will take place somewhere between 8th-12th August.

But like I said, I have no idea how accurate these types of forecast are.