Cape Town Water Restrictions to be extended?

I’m not going to go into the whole “there’s a drought” thing, because I have done that already. Several times. If you’re down here in this corner of SA, you’ll know that we’re already on Level 3b Water Restrictions. But with winter now just around the corner and still no sign of any meaningful rain (those prayers are really helping us out, hey?), the City looks likely to move to Level 4 restrictions real soon now.

Level 4 means no using potable water outside at all. For anything. At all. Ever.
And any water you do use (indoors) will cost more too.

But this got me thinking. Level 1, 2, 3a and 3b restrictions have had only a very limited effect on the dam levels, so what if Level 4 fails too? Just how high can we go?

I went down to the basement of the monolithic Municipal Building in Cape Town CBD and did some rudimentary research.
Here is some of what I discovered…

Level 5 water restrictions allow for water shedding. That is, times of the day – perhaps 2 or 3 hour periods – when the water supply to different areas of the city will be cut. You know the drill, because we’ve done this before with electricity.

Level 6 water restrictions mean that there will be very limited times when water is readily available to residential customers. If you want water, you will likely have to go to a local standpipe or bowser to get it.

And from there… well… it gets really severe. Here are a few examples:

Level 7 means you won’t be allowed to use your borehole anymore.

Level 9 allows for teams of city workers using giant vacuum cleaners to suck the morning dew from parks and lawns.

If we get as far as Level 11, it will be mandatory to surrender the contents of your swimming pool to the Sheriff of the Court. Including any toys therein. And your Kreepy Krauly.

When we get to Level 12, each household will have to donate 5 litres of their weekly allowance to mayor Patricia de Lille so that she can keep the fountain in her back garden going.

Part of the Level 14 restrictions require anyone participating in a local Parkrun to wear a plastic overall so that their perspiration can be collected in a big barrel at the finish line, from which fresh water will then be extracted.

The Level 17 restrictions involve at least one member of each residential household being press-ganged into joining a massive convoy from Cape Town to Johannesburg and stealing the Hartebeespoort Dam (in many, many small amounts).

Level 19 will make it illegal to cry without collecting your tears in a tupperware container (the container used for this purpose must be pre-registered with the city using Form L19-6b, available from the Water & Sanitation Department offices) for recycling.

Level 23 means that the City can legally harvest and press Fynbos from the local Table Mountain National Park and collect the juices, from which water will be extracted. The pulp will then be donated to the hippie communities in Noordhoek and Kommetjie where it is routinely used instead of soap. And deodorant. And paint. And food.

At Level 26, residents will only be allowed to drink grey water.

At Level 27, residents will only be allowed to drink black water.

At Level 28, residents will only be allowed to inhale fog.

At Level 29, residents will only be allowed to drink sand.

 

Level 30 makes it illegal to live in Cape Town.

Of course, all this unpleasantness could easily be avoided in Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille would only take on board (or even acknowledge) my brilliant plan to solve the water crisis for the next 25,000 years. Just like the UAE have.

Water Crisis Solved

In order to understand the thinking behind my idea what has just single-handedly solved the local water crisis, you need to be aware of a couple of points.

Point 1: There is a water crisis in Cape Town. I may have repeatedly mentioned the drought and the ongoing – and constantly more stringent – water restrictions somewhere on the blog previously.
The dams are down to 37%. We need water.

Point 2: There’s an absolutely massive chunk of ice about to fall off Antarctica.

Beagle-eyed readers might already see where I’m going with this, but you’re too late. I’ve emailed everyone who matters in this (fairly obvious with hindsight) plan of mine. Stakeholders and roleplayers are on board. Some of them quite literally.
I’m talking about the Smit Amandla Marine Salvage (and now Iceberg Towing) guys; I’m talking about the Mayor of the Cape Town, Patricia “Peppermint Patty” de Lille (I also gave Empress Helen a buzz, just to keep her in the loop); and I’m talking about several local artisanal gin manufacturers, who – together with their tonic making colleagues – would surely not want to miss out on this opportunity to have pristine Antarctic ice freshly-delivered right to their metaphorical doorstep, courtesy of global warming and the newly-formed 6000 miles… Ice Company (Pty) Ltd.

I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and I reckon that the distance from the Larsen C Ice Shelf (for it is that what is breaking) to Cape Town is a distance of about 6000…. [audience hold breath expectantly] …kilometres [audience sighs with disappointment].

That’s not so far, and the amount of ice that’s going to break off, while difficult to accurately estimate, is certainly substantial enough to warrant the effort of towing it to Cape Town. The depth of the broken ice shelf is almost a kilometre, and it’s going to be between 120-150km long and about 75km wide.

A further rudimentary calculation suggests that it therefore has a volume of 8,400,000,000 cubic metres. That’s 8.4 billion megalitres. Moist.
We can’t (and mustn’t) get carried away though. Remember that ice is an expanded version of water. A version of water that’s 9.05% expanded.

So we’re actually going to get 76.02 billion megalitres. Still, at 800Ml usage per day, that’s still enough to keep us going for 9½ million days, or just over 26,000 years.

Yeah. Some of it might melt on the way, I know. Whatevs.
So let’s round it off to a nice 25,000 years of clean, fresh, pure water.

Still got to be worth it.

There are a couple of logistical challenges to overcome, I admit. It’s quite close to Argentina and they might want it, but then again, so are the Falkland Islands and they want them too, but they’re not having them. Or my ice shelf. Hard luck.

Then there’s the issue of where to store it. Ideally, what we need is a nice long, deep, three-sided valley that we can build a big wall across the end of. Franschhoek will do. Franschhoek, with its outrageous faux French accents and that ridiculous double H nonsense in the middle.

True, we’ll lose one of the scenic gems of the Cape, some of the best restaurants in the world and some truly amazing wine farms…

…but on the plus side, we’ll have water for the next 250 centuries.
A worthwhile sacrifice, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Au revoir.

This particular idea is mine, but the genre is not new. As this article informs us:

Long-distance iceberg towing is one of those ideas that will not die but never really springs to life either. It exists in a kind of technological purgatory, dressed up in whatever technology is fashionable during an epoch and resold to a happily gullible media.

Pretty much what I just did in the 450 words above, then. And pretty much what Hult and Ostrander did in 96 pages back in 1973. True, their idea has never caught on in the 44 intervening years, but then they never had the power of social media available to make their case.
And once you get some middle-aged white people in Constantia – desperately concerned at the state of their lawns – on your side, once you get Facebook groups and online petitions going, once you bombard Cape Talk and Carte Blanche, those bastions of public opinion, with your fantastic plan to provide water for the Cape for the next nine and a half million days, (and once you’ve silenced the whinging residents of Franschhoek) I think we’ll come up with a plan to get the Larsen C Ice Shelf to the Western Cape fairly quickly.

Never forget, dear readers: You heard it here first.

I’ve been saying…

I love it when a plan comes together …when two recent 6000 miles… blog posts are linked by some external force or means.

I’ve been talking a lot about the local water restrictions (because it is big, big news here) and yesterday, I mentioned how people hate “drones” because they think that they are spying on them.

Guess what, readers – today, there was this on the Cape Talk website:

The City says about 20 000 residents are guilty of excessive water consumption.

It was revealed on Friday that the largest water consumers include the green belt of Newlands and Constantia as well as neighbouring suburbs Athlone, Newfields, Rylands and Lansdowne.In the northern suburbs, more big consumers are to be found in Kraaifontein, while further afield verdant Somerset West is another water-guzzling area.

Yeah, “water-guzzling”, “verdant” Somerset West. Sort yourself out.

The City says they will be working with residents to reduce usage before taking harsher measures.
Limberg says they will begin introducing new technology such as drones.

ROBOTIC SPY CAMERAS! EYES IN THE SKY! IT’S LIKE 1984 ALL OVER AGAIN. (I MEAN THE BOOK, NOT THE YEAR!) (DRONES HADN’T REALLY BEEN INVENTED BACK THEN.) IT’S INVADING MY PRIVACY AND LET’S FACE IT, THE OPERATORS ARE ACTUALLY JUST LOOKING FOR BIKINI-CLAD SUNBATHERS IN THE BACK GARDENS, AREN’T THEY? SICKOS!

See what I mean?

Could you please pray a bit harder?

Last week’s plea from the City of Cape Town to religious leaders to pray for rain already appears to be paying damp dividends. A quick check on my Weatherbomb widget suggests that we’re in for some precipitation tomorrow, just a few (or a couple) of days after religious gatherings across the region:

Just look at that purple mound over Tues. Wetness! Moisture! But – couldn’t we do a bit better? Because a cross check with Windguru indicates that Cape Town should expect a grand total of [big drum roll]…

1.4mm of rain tomorrow!

[sad trombone]

Of course, there will be local variations. Newlands will get more than 1.4mm, Durbanville probably won’t get any rain whatsoever. But overall, it’s simply not good enough, religious leaders. Please pray harder.

But then, beagle-eyed readers will be already pointing to next week’s forecast: a week away to next Sunday into Monday – look at the veritable mountain of violet. JUST LOOK AT IT!
It’s early days, but it’s still rain! However, looking at Windguru, it seems that we can expect a monstrous 4.2mm of precipitation on that occasion.

Every little helps, I know. But… but really?

I hope I’m not alone in my simultaneous gratitude and chastisement of our local religious leaders. Right now, I’m happy that we’re going to have a cooler, damper day tomorrow. And I’m delighted that there are seven hours of next week which look even more moist.

But can we organise more volume and greater frequency, please? Up the ante a little? Because 5.6mm over 7 days isn’t going make a jot of difference in reality. Please – no floods or anything (I don’t have an ark), just a few days (not forty) of decent, wetting rain so that the plants don’t all die off completely and so that we can still have a bath come April?

Get it together, guys. Honestly.

How to snitch

And by snitching, I mean ratting, singing like a canary, squeaking, finking, tipping off. I mean:

to secretly tell someone in authority that someone else has done something bad, often in order to cause trouble.

The “bad thing” in this case being breaking the water restrictions, the “authority” being the City of Cape Town, and the “trouble” being a phat phine for being naughty.

I’m not saying you must. I’m not saying you mustn’t. I’m merely saying that a lot of people have posed the question of how they would (hypothetically) go about it, and I’m sharing my knowledge. Think of me as a facilitator.

The City has made it quite easy for you to be an Informer (ya’ no say daddy me Snow me I go blame, a licky boom boom down.)

When reporting people who ignore water restrictions you must provide as much evidence as possible related to the incident.
Photographs and precise details are vital.

If there is scant evidence, the city will still warn an alleged wrongdoer that they have received a tip off. However, the city can only fine if it has evidence.

Here’s how to report noncompliance with water restrictions:

Call 0860 103 089 (choose option two: water related faults)

Use the city’s Service Requests Tool

Send an email to water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za

SMS 31373 (max of 160 characters)

Knock yourself out. Or don’t.
No-one likes a grass (especially if it’s dried out and brown).