our work

Cape Town’s Water Crisis Response: Navigating Accelerating Change

Cape Town’s water shortage

The City of Cape Town (CCT) experienced a severe water shortage between 2017 and 2018  (Figure 1) because of an extreme, once in 300-year meteorological drought that occurred between 2015-2017. This resulted in a lack of rainfall, specifically in the catchment areas of the major dams that supply the CCT, causing dam levels to drop below 29% and the Premier declaring the Western Cape as a disaster area. The rainfall decrease came about because of changes in atmospheric and ocean circulation resulting in a poleward shift of the Southern Hemisphere moisture corridor and expansion of the South Atlantic high pressure system. In addition, population growth increased water demand adding pressure to the situation. In response, the CCT implemented drastic measures including strict water restrictions and tariff hikes that saw the CCT’s water use halve. It was remarkable how CCT residents were able to decrease water use to avoid “Day Zero”. Relief came in 2020 when rainfall trends seemed to increase and stabilise.

Adapting to accelerating changes

The cognisance of our dynamic environment has brought about the need for adapting to accelerating changes which the CCT did by diversifying its bulk supply through alternative water resources such as water reuse, desalination, and abstraction of groundwater. Umvoto has been involved in managing and monitoring the CCT’s groundwater resources, specifically; the development of bulk water supply by sustainable abstraction of groundwater  from the Atlantis, Cape Flats, and Table Mountain Group Aquifer systems. Included in this is managed aquifer recharge using stormwater and treated effluent to effectively close the City’s water loop. This will contribute to elevating the stress of inevitable future droughts. As our most essential component to life, water needs to be managed in a sustainable and equitable manner.

Umvoto on World Water Day

World Water Day is about gaining support for solutions to water concerns. Awareness about the importance of water is pivotal for a prosperous future in our everchanging world. Umvoto continues to address water resource issues and provide guidance to authorities on the best course of action for the benefit of all persons and the environment. Explore Umvoto’s website to get an idea of how we can help you keep up with accelerating change.


8 Beach Road

muizenberg, Cape town