Look To Melbourne For Long-Term Water Supply Solutions

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news over the last few weeks, you probably already know that Cape Town in South Africa is due to run out of water on April 12th.


Officials in the city now have plans in place to close the pipe network as soon as dam levels reach 13.5 per cent, with the four million residents allocated just 25 litres of water a day each. Here in the UK, people use an average of 150 litres of water a day each – which should put the problem Cape Town is now facing in real perspective.


The water shortages in the city are being put down to the drop in rainfall, as well as 20 years of population growth. The last three years has seen Cape Town hit hard by drought, with the population climbing by almost 80 per cent since 1995. So what exactly can be done to help the people of Cape Town?


Speaking to Quartz Africa, Anne Van Loon – a hydrologist who works at the University of Birmingham here in the UK – suggested that Cape Town officials look to Melbourne as a shining example of what can be done to make long-term changes with regards to water scarcity.


She explained that Melbourne rolled out a raft of different water-saving measures, with the biggest being both mandatory and voluntary changes in the use of this precious resource. Fines were handed out for daytime car washing and lawn watering, for example, while smaller community programmes were brought in where timers were given out to help people be quicker in the shower.


Rebates were also offered for using water-efficient washing machines and dishwashers, while educational material was handed out in schools and colleges, as well as being advertised in newspapers and on TV.


It seems that this has had a long-term effect on people’s attitudes to water, with a report released in 2010 revealing that the per capita water consumption in Melbourne for that year was 152 litres a day. This has only increased a little to reach 166 litres a day in 2016.


Thus far in Cape Town, guidelines have been given out to residents to help them cut back on water usage, including only flushing the toilet when absolutely necessary, spending less time in the shower and fixing water leaks.


It is expected that some of the problems the city is facing will be alleviated come the winter (between May and August) because such issues can in part be put down to changes in the seasons. But it is still important to look at the issue as a long-term problem that will only be exacerbated by climate change in the future – so ingraining new attitudes towards water use among residents certainly seems to be a must for Cape Town.


Do you want to cut back on your own water usage this year? Consider talking to rainwater harvesting consultants H2O Building Services if you’d like to find out more.