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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Life or Death Matter: David Lipschitz's letter in the Cape Times on 8th March 2016

Life or Death Matter

According to the City of Cape Town web site, dam levels are at 38.7 percent, while last week they were at 40.5 percent. In 2014 they were at 81.2 percent. Theoretically Cape Town has 21 months of water left, assuming no rain, but with dams silting up, who knows how much water we really have?

Cape Town's dramatic population increase over the past 20 years, together with hardly any increase in dams, combined with the drought over the past two years, and lack of imagination in the City of Cape Town council and at provincial level, led to the problem.

Some people are calling for "Level 3" water savings. If the City implements Level 3 water savings, there will be an even more dramatic reduction in income for the City.

Many people have already installed pool covers and with a reduction in watering allowances on gardens, people are seeing a 50 percent-plus drop in water consumption, with an associated decrease in income going to the City, even with the massive price increases for large, home-based water users.

At Level 3, people might find ways to stop buying City water altogether! People and organisations are already finding ways not to buy electricity due to the massive price increases, together with less Eskom and municipality electricity being available. Cape Town's lack of water is a big problem, made much worse by decades of bad planning, and bad thinking! Desalination could solve our problem, but government isn't thinking about that - yet.

If people were allowed to install roof top solar electric systems on their houses, and if we were allowed to feed our excess electricity into the grid at a reasonable price, the excess electricity generated could be used to desalinate water. This is much cheaper than building new dams, and dams take years to build and need rain and mountain water - and we just don't have this time, nor, with climate change, can we expect the needed rain anytime soon.

If the City runs out of water, we'll all be dead within four days, so perhaps allowing rooftop electricity is truly the answer! Many people have planned their retirement, but isn't it better to plan to be alive next week?

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