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.

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.

Level 3 Water Restrictions For Cape Town

Yep. “Just” 11 months after putting the Level 2 water restrictions in place, and with a disappointingly dry winter behind us, the City’s Mayco has approved the implementation of Level 3 restrictions from 1st November 2016. That’s because you and I haven’t saved enough water this year.
Victim-blaming hat on:

Cape Town residents as a whole did not achieve the consistent 10% reduction in water use that was mandated from 1 January 2016. If we continue to use water as we did on Level 2 restrictions over the coming summer months, the dams are at risk of falling to 15% by the end of the summer period. Following on, if we experience poor rainfall next rainy season, we could find our dams at approximately 50% this time next year.

The dam levels have slipped slightly again this week – their second successive weekly fall, and although it’s not by much, it’s still not by much the wrong way. Unless something dramatic happens, our “high” at the end of winter will have been a worrying 62.5%.

Chez 6000, we’ve already been washing with a bucket on the shower floor to collect the “spare” grey water, which then goes on the garden each morning. But apparently it’s simply not been enough.
“SO MANY BUCKETS THOUGH!!!!” he wailed.

In basic terms, what these means is that the more water you use, the more you will pay – at higher tariffs too, but if you can reduce your usage by 20%, you should pay no more than you are already paying (but for less water, obviously).
Oh – and there are some other really important additional new rules too:

 – Watering/irrigation (with drinking water from municipal supply) of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only if using a bucket or watering container. No use of hosepipes or automatic sprinkler systems is allowed.

– Cars and boats may only be washed with water from buckets.

– Manual topping up of swimming pools is allowed only if pools are fitted with a pool cover. No automatic top-up systems are allowed.

– No portable play pools are permitted to be used.

What remains to be seen is whether any of this will be policed or whether the city will simply rely on those higher bills to deter excessive water usage. Since that approach evidently didn’t work on the Level 2 restrictions, I wonder if they will actually be doing something about people not obeying the rules this summer?

More than half

Good news from Cape Town’s previously much maligned dams this week as the latest figures, released a few moments ago (we can like to bring you the good news first), show that we now have 53.7% fillage:

Fullscreen capture 2016-08-01 024803 PM.bmp

That means that we’re some 10% better off than a fortnight ago, not least because of the deluge that hit us last Tuesday.

Woo hoo! *turns on all the taps*

We’re still well short of the (at least) 75% we’d like to see as a minimum by the end of winter, though.

Ah. *turns all taps off again*

However, at this rate, given another 4 weeks of reasonable winter weather, we might just make it. And there’s another hefty bunch of moisture coming through tomorrow evening already, with Windguru predicting almost an inch of quickfire precipitation over Cape Town in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Add to that the inexorable season creep that seems to have befallen the Western Cape in the last decade, and we’ve probably got another few weeks after that as well.

Be reminded that the ever-so-well-enforced Level 2 water restrictions still remain in force though.

Damn

Dam level figures released today for Cape Town’s ‘Big 6’ indicate that we’re 0.4% worse off than we were this time last week, teetering once again just above the magical 30% ‘CRITICAL‘ level, below which nothing actually changes.

Fullscreen capture 30-May-16 92448 PM.bmp

Oh then, to be in Sheffield (as I was a couple of weeks ago) where the dams are just about as full as they can be:

That total of 10,410,000,000 gallons is equal to 47,324,796,900 litres, in case you were wondering.

And what does a dam that’s 98% full look like? Like this.
And what does the other side of the wall look like when the dam is 100.1% full? Like this.