Frequently Asked Questions


What is the average daily consumption of water of Swartland from the Voëlvlei Dam?
The Swartland consumes approximately 10 Megalitres (Ml) (which equals 10 million litres) per day.
How much water is still available in the Voëlvlei Dam?
The Voëlvlei Dam has (22 January 2018) approximately 10 000 Ml of water until the dam reaches the 12.5% level. In total there are approximately 30 000 Ml of water left in the dam.

The average use of water currently is approximately:

  • Swartland Municipality 4.5%
  • City of Cape Town 4.5%
  • Saldanha Bay Municipality 11.4 %
  • Agriculture 39.5%
  • Evaporation 36.4%
  • Other (Piketberg, Velddrif, Hermon, Gouda, Rural) 3.7%
At this stage agriculture already used up almost all of their collective quota from the Voëlvlei Dam and their further use will soon be suspended. City of Cape Town has decreased its normal extraction from the Voëlvlei Dam from 200 Ml per day to 10 Ml per day but it is expected that they will soon have no choice but to increase their daily consumption within lower limits. Up to now the City of Cape Town acted in the best interest of all consumers that get water from the Voëlvlei Dam.
Are there emergency plans in place when/if the taps run dry?

Yes, it consists of three phases. We are now in Phase 1 which stipulates that restrictive measures, pressure and flow control and tariff increases (and fines) will be implemented to restrict the consumption of water and to attempt, together with all residents, to delay or altogether avoid "Day Zero".

Phase 2 is when assembly points will be set up. Their locations are already being planned. But because we are not in Phase 2 yet and because "Day Zero" can possibly be delayed/avoided with the cooperation of residents, the locations of the assembly points are not going to be made known at this stage. We are also still in the process of determining the position of boreholes and wells where water is readily available and which can possibly be used to supply water to surrounding residents. Our priority would be to first set up assembly points in locations where there are no boreholes or wells available.

Phase 3 is when there is no water available in the municipal system. This is when all residents will have to get their water from assembly points.

Besides making people aware of the crisis, what does the Municipality do to address the shortage?
Please refer to the newsletter here. The measures under Phase 1 (awareness, pressure and flow management, increased tariffs, fines and consumption monitoring) already brought about a saving of 40%. The goal currently is 45% and savings must still be improved. We wish to thank the residential, business and industrial users of Swartland who contributed to the saving and we encourage them to continue to do so. There are however still consumers who do not cooperate and who need to save more. Preparations will have to be done for Phase 2 if the collective saving by all consumers is not enough. In Phase 2 water will still be available but will be provided at assembly points as mentioned earlier.
Is Cape Town's "Day Zero" date also applicable to the Swartland?

"Day Zero" in the municipal area of the City of Cape Town is not when the major dams run dry but when dam levels reach 13.5%. This is the point that water supply will be cut to large parts of the city to ensure that a lifeline water supply is available until the dam storage stabilises with the onset of winter rains. At the end of January 2018 "Day Zero" was 12 April 2018. Because water is obtained from the Western Cape Water Supply System which is an integrated system not only for the City of Cape Town, but also for Municipalities such as Swartland, Stellenbosch, Saldanha Bay and Drakenstein who get their water from this system. It is not clear at this stage what high level decision regarding "Day Zero" might be taken and if "Day Zero" will be applied wider than just the City of Cape Town.

If we look at Swartland only, our first critical hurdle is middle March when the level of the Voëlvlei Dam reaches 12.5%. This is when the Department of Water and Sanitation will start pumping water from deeper areas of the dam to the Swartland water treatment works. The pumping of water will hopefully buy us time until the winter rains arrive.

Is Swartland Municipality considering drought levies?

No, not at all. Swartland's budgeted income and real income for the first six months (7/2017 to 12/2017) are within ±R25 000 of each other on a total cost of ±R28 million.

Increased block tariffs and fines for excessive usage are already in place.

Is there progress with the search for alternative water sources?
Yes, it was determined that there is reasonably strong groundwater in the vicinity of Riverlands and Yzerfontein. We have started with test holes after which the quality and quantity of the water will be tested. If viable, the boreholes will be prepared and fitted with the necessary pumps. The alternative sources are however not sufficient to provide in the total demand.
What will happen the day the taps run dry and what will the residents have to do?
We are going to do everything in our power to prevent this from happening, but if it does happen we will talk to the residents in good time and indicate where the assembly points will be. Residents must please continue to use as little water as possible and not waste any water. We believe we can get through this difficult time if every resident fully cooperates.
Would you advise residents to start to purchase and stock water for domestic use, seeing that the selling of borehole water is illegal according to the Department of Water and Sanitation?
It cannot be predicted whether all consumers will act in the interest of the majority and will stop using water after their joint allocated quota was reached, or when the winter rains will start. We rely on the cooperation of all users and trust that the rain will arrive in good time. Every resident should, however, consider the risks and take precautionary measures. All storage of water will be an advantage if Phase 2 has to be implemented.
What are the legal requirements regarding the selling and purchasing of borehole water?

The control of boreholes is handled by the Department of Water and Sanitation. Swartland Municipality does not have the jurisdiction to control or approve the selling or purchasing of borehole water, or to prosecute sellers of borehole water.

We again request that residents who have borehole water available, register the borehole with the Municipality. We would like to test the water for human consumption and also the supply capacity of the borehole per hour. The Municipality will not close any private boreholes or wells or confiscate the water, for as long as the drought disaster continues.

When will a detailed policy and operational plan be published on the Day Zero water collection points:
We are in Phase 1 (Preservation Restrictions (rationing)). The purpose is to avoid escalation to Phase 2.

We are busy to design the collection points in a way that makes sense. In order to ensure effective implementation, the Water Management Team is labouring over questions such as:

  • What range and size of containers will people choose to use;
  • How will they carry these containers to and from the standpipe;
  • What time of day will they come to the collection point;
  • What transport will they opt to use to and from the collection point;
  • How will families and neighbours organise themselves to collect water in a way that makes sense;
  • Who within the household or business will be designated to collect water and for how many people will they collect.
Has the map for Day Zero cut off areas and water collection points been finalized?
We are busy with this and will be providing more information in the near future.
Can sea water be used to flush toilets?
No - this could corrode parts of the reticulation infrastructure and our wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle high salinity. Use appropriate greywater and alternative sources, such as water from boreholes, to flush toilets.
What are businesses that rely on water going to do?
We are engaging with as many of these organisations as possible to work out what will be the best way to meet their water needs in a Day Zero scenario. The crisis that we face requires a whole of society approach.
What is the situation regarding the regulation of boreholes?

Swartland Municipality does not regulate borehole usage; we only require that permission be obtained to drill and to register a borehole at the Municipality.

The custodian of water resources is the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

We advocate the sustainable use of borehole water for indoor purposes but we do not support the use of borehole water for outdoor purposes, such as gardening.

Why has the municipality not (substantially) reduced water pressure?

We have in fact been substantially reducing water pressure since November 2017.

Our engineers have been reducing water pressure in the bulk pipes at our reservoirs as well as in the reticulation network that feeds our households.

Even with reduced pressure, lower-lying areas will have water as it flows easier because of gravity.

Operational staff have lowered the pressures across Swartland but the intention is to keep the system (in Phase 1) pressurised (keep water flowing).

This is because a lot of damage could be done if we switch off this pressure system entirely.

Is the water system sophisticated enough to selectively cut off areas and supply the water distribution points?
No, not in all areas, but water collection points, which will be one of the means of distributing water, have been located near reticulation points.
What plans does Swartland Municipality have for less able and vulnerable people to get water after Day Zero?
Information sessions will be set up with neighbourhood watches, NGOs, religious organisations and community groups to brief them on the Day Zero Disaster Plan and what role they will need to play in ensuring that all persons are able to access their (25 litres) of water per day. As part of the information sessions, we will be asking partners to gather information on extremely vulnerable persons in the areas where they operate.
Will schools be prioritised as water collection points so that they can continue operating too?

It will largely be left up to relevant role-players in these sectors to determine suitable contingency plans and concessions for employees and students.

Residents should be aware that the Day Zero phase 2 and 3 are extreme disaster scenarios, and significant disruption of daily life is to be expected.

Are there plans for providing water to essential services if the water levels drop to a point where water can’t be provided?
Yes - We are procuring water tankers to assist with the provision of water to essential services which are no longer supplied with water via the reticulation system. However, critical infrastructure has been prioritised for continued supply of water via the reticulation system. It is largely residential areas which will no longer be able to be provided with water via the reticulation system.
What steps are being taken to stop people using excessive water?

This is based on the billing information of account holders. The Municipality is busy with ongoing daily enforcement operations, public awareness campaigns and the installation of water management devices for high water users at their cost. High tariffs for the highest users will assist to drive down consumption.

Residents should be aware that the Day Zero phase 2 and 3 are extreme disaster scenarios, and significant disruption of daily life is to be expected.