Drought posters: too much?

Local authorities in Cape Town have come under fire this week for their latest attempts to convince tourists of the severity of the drought in the Mother City, with critics saying the posters “go too far”, and are “frankly rather scary” and “wholly distasteful”.

The summer tourist season is approaching, and many residents have expressed concern that transient visitors will either be unaware of our water crisis or simply won’t care, and would therefore waste our precious resources. Tourism is huge business in the Western Cape, with 1.5 million international visitors spending a massive R18 billion in the province in 2016. It’s clear that without that money, Cape Town would be in deep trouble, but running out of water completely would obviously be a disaster.

However, those same residents were stunned at the authorities response, with shocking posters which are set to be displayed prominently in the arrivals area in the airport and at popular tourist sites around the city.

Elsie Grootbek of Newlands was aghast:

Look, of course I know that the drought is a big issue, but South Africa does have a bit of a reputation and posters like this really don’t help with that. This is terrible. Which moron actually thought that this would be a good idea?

Reaction to other posters was equally incredulous. Fanie Praatbaie, a guest house owner in Melkbosstrand, couldn’t believe the posters and was concerned what effect they might have:

It’s bad taste and really off-putting. We’ll talk to our visitors, one to one, and explain the water crisis. We don’t need this sort of thing welcoming our tourists. It might even spark vigilante action if one of our guests takes a 4 minute shower or something. It’s hugely worrying.

However, government representatives were quick to point out that this ‘shocked’ reaction was exactly what they were after.

Spokesperson Willem van der Maydup told us:

It’s really not meant to be threatening. It’s just designed to make people think when they turn the taps on in their hotel rooms. Water is the lifeblood of any city, and we want visitors to value our water as if it were their own blood.
I showed one of the posters to my 6 year old son last week and it’s clearly had an effect: he hasn’t even gone into the bathroom since then. Or slept.

It’s unclear whether the backlash will force the authorities to change their mind on the controversial campaign, but with the local tourism season just around the corner, it may be too late to come up with an alternative means of getting their important message across.

Anton’s grave warning

No. Not you, Anton. This Anton:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a lot of emails from readers struggling to work out exactly what might happen regarding the drought situation during the upcoming summer, and I’ll be absolutely honest here, I’ve fobbed them off with answers that most politicians would be proud of. I’ve meandered around the subject, filibustered relentlessly, and fed them current statistics which actually have no bearing whatsoever on the medium-term status of our water supply here in the Western Cape.

But that’s because I’m just a humble blogger. I don’t have the massive resources of Provincial Government backing me up. I can’t call upon supercomputers, meteorologists, hydrologists and Mystic Myrtle from Accounts to give me expert advice and information on how things are likely to progress from this moment onwards.

Anton has all of this (and, I suspect, more) right at his fingertips, and wow… doesn’t it just show…

Because here’s what he said yesterday:

I mean… who knew?

I had several possible scenarios for the summer planned out on the giant Western Cape water crisis whiteboard which dominates our bedroom, but I have to say that each and every one of them suggested that things were bound to improve on the drought front – at least until the next rainfall season. I certainly couldn’t have predicted that things would – and here I borrow the erstwhile MEC’s exact words – “in all likelihood” “get worse”.

And looking now, I still stand by my previous thoughts, too, because actually, without the assistance of experts, who ever could have come up with this sort of prediction: that 6 or more months of hot, dry weather locally could possibly make a drought worse (in all likelihood, at least)?

Of course, now I will have to get my (waterless) eraser out and revisit my mental machinations on the most probable consequences of the dry season on the Western Cape water crisis.

I sincerely hope that I haven’t predicted the outcome of the next rainfall season incorrectly as well. Right now, I can’t see it having any positive effect. How will water, falling from the sky make any difference to our dam levels? It clearly won’t, and it’s laughable to think otherwise.

Although, thinking again, maybe we should wait for the experts to confirm that.

After all, insight like this is exactly why we pay them the big, big bucks.

Save Water – Times Live

Here’s local rag The Times reporting on the City of Cape Town’s new water usage calculator website:

If you think it starts with some bad advice (and it does – why immediately double the length of your shower “just because you can”?), then you need to read through again and see how it ends:

Jesus. No. Simply not happening.

HMDOWDCTHL?

Because

How Many Days Of Water Does Cape Town Have Left?

was too long for a blog post title. In my humble opinion, anyway.

If you want to know the answer to that question, then you might find a visit to local website howmanydaysofwaterdoescapetownhaveleft.co.za informative.

I went there just that this morning and I saw this:

Really?
Yes, whatever method they’re using, described as:

using our recent consumption as a model for future usage

provides us with the frankly terrifying prospect of October 7th being the day at which Cape Town’s dams hit the apocalyptic 10% mark.

But I think that they’ve got it wrong.

I thought I’d give the rudimentary calculation a go myself.
I went for the mathematically simple:

method.

Long story short, according to the latest city figures, we have 250581 megalitres stored, which is 27.9% of total storage capacity. As has been mentioned ad nauseum, the last 10% of our capacity is “unusable”, so clearly we can only use the first 17.9% bit of that (which is 64.2% of 27.9%).

That’s 160767 megalitres.

And we’re using 642 megalitres a day. So I make that

250 days – April 7th 2018

 

Far more reasonable, and more than a bit of a difference. I even did it in purple for you, and look, it does fit with Clem Sunter’s prediction/calculation.

Look, if you are going to have a website that only has one purpose, at least make it accurate. Does HasZumaQuitYet need checking too (he said, hopefully)?

Not great. Anyway, all in all, it’s still an excellent reminder that one way or another, pretty soon the only thing we’re going to be waist deep in is Shit Creek.

Sans paddle.

 

(I think I can see what they’ve done, by the way: they’ve divided the 250581Ml by 100 instead of 27.9 before multiplying by 17.9. I just don’t know who to tell about it. No contact details on there, see?)

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.