The City of Cape Town has urged residents to do their bit to save water by showering for only two minutes and avoid flushing the toilet, unless it’s “aboslutely necessary” – yes, the drought situation is that bad.

Two weeks ago, the city revealed that the current drought is the worst it has experienced in a century, effectively putting it in crisis mode.

This week, Cape Town supply dam storage levels are now at 19.7%, which is 0.8% down from a week ago. With the last 10% of a dam’s water mostly not being useable, dam levels are effectively at 9.7%.

“We are currently in the most critical stage of this drought crisis, yet consumption remains too high. Residents are reminded to use water only for drinking, washing and cooking. Tougher restrictions will be implemented this week. The exact restrictions that will be passed must still be deliberated by Council, however a blanket ban on all irrigation, filling of pools and washing of cars with drinking water has been recommended (among other things) by the Mayoral Committee,” the city said.

Residents have been asked work towards the consumption target of under 100 litres per person per day.

“A five-minute shower can use between 40 litres and 70 litres, and flushing a toilet uses 6 – 21 litres, depending on the size of the cistern. One shower and five flushes of an average-sized toilet will push a person over their daily allowance, and this is not even taking into account other necessities such as drinking, cooking, and washing of clothes and dishes. As such, the City recommends limiting time under the shower to two minutes and only flushing the toilet when absolutely necessary,” the city said.

Should residents be able to meet this level, a two-person household will use 6 kilolitres (kl, equal to one thousand litres) during a billing cycle and a four-person household will use 12 kl during a billing cycle, and so on.

The city said it is continuing large-scale pressure reduction programmes across Cape Town to force down consumption and is implementing various small/medium-scale emergency supply schemes.

[Image – CC Karen Arnold]