Cape Town is well on the way to avoiding day zero thanks to the huge sacrifices made by the agricultural sector.
We have all learned to use less water and set new standards for water saving, but we couldn’t have done it on our own.
Our hope is that many of these savings become a permanent feature in our pattern of water use in both business and the domestic sector. This should ensure that there is more water available for agriculture in future. Farmers deserve the extra water.
It’s important to understand that agriculture in the Western Cape relies on trees and vines. If a farmer loses an orchard it takes years to replace. Trees also remember. They have been punished by the drought and they will produce less fruit next year to improve their chances of survival. That’s nature.
The planners, especially the engineers, understand the effect the drought and the reduced water rations have on agriculture, export earnings and jobs, but they’ve had no option but to restrict water supplies.
The people of Cape Town have shown their appreciation by dramatically reducing their water consumption, but we have to do more. The Chamber has already urged the City Council to make more use of recycled water and we are strong believers in desalination on a large scale for coastal cities.
There has been warnings that large desalination plants could become wasteful spending if we had good rains, but we’ve rejected the argument. Agriculture is all about water and with more water available we could have more agriculture, more jobs and more export earnings. The farmers along the Orange River prove this year after year. We can do it in the Western Cape too. More water means more land can be cultivated and that will be good for the whole economy.
President of the Cape Chamber