22/05/2017 16:23 BST | Updated 22/05/2017 16:32 BST

Zille Declares Western Cape 'Disaster Area'

It's the worst drought since 1904 and Premier Zille says a disaster declaration will last for a minimum of three months.

Marc Davies

The worst drought crisis since 1904 has led Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to declare the province a disaster area.

In a press release on Monday, Zille said the disaster will be classified for a minimum of three months, after which it may be extended "if the need arises".

Zille said a provincial inter-ministerial committee will meet regularly to assess immediate threats. National Treasury and the National Department of Water and Sanitation would also be approached should further assistance be required, she said.

Last Tuesday, the City of Cape Town issued a critical warning to all users to "cut all non-essential" use of water. Dam storage levels were effectively at 11.2% last week, the City said, when subtracting unusable water from overall available reserves.

Zille, however, has cautioned against panic saying the disaster declaration "enhances control by affording the Province additional powers of intervention". The Disaster Management Act enables government during a disaster classification to protect key frontline service delivery points by reprioritising funding for necessary interventions.

"While it remains a cause for concern, we believe the current drought is an opportunity to innovate and act responsible in the way we make us of our water resources," Zille said.

The Province has urged all residents to continue saving water and adhering to the various restrictions in place.

The City of Cape Town last week advised residents to observe the following in order to save water:

  • Only flush the toilet when necessary. Don't use it as a dustbin.
  • Take a short 2-minute shower. A standard (non-water-saving) showerhead can use as much as 16 litres of water per minute.
  • Collect your shower, bath and basin water and re-use it to flush your toilet, and for the garden and cleaning. So-called grey water use has some health and hygiene risks you must avoid. Keep hands and surface areas sanitised/disinfected.
  • Defrost food in the fridge naturally, rather than placing it under running water.
  • Use a cup instead of running taps in the bathroom or kitchen, for brushing teeth, shaving, drinking etc.
  • Wait for a full load before running washing machines and dishwashers. The rinse water from some washing machines can be reused for the next wash cycle.
  • Switch to an efficient showerhead which uses no more than 10 litres per minute, as per the City's by-law.
  • Upgrade to a multi-flush toilet and/or put a water displacement item in the cistern which can halve your water use per flush.
  • Fit taps with aerators or restrictors to reduce flow to no more than 6 litres per minute, as per the City's by-law.