Despite recent rain, the City of Cape Town was increasing its efforts to secure new sources of temporary water supply in the midst of the worst drought in 100 years, mayor Patricia de Lille said on Sunday.

At its May council meeting the council resolved to take a new resilience approach to water management in the city.

“Being resilient in an urban environment means that we have the capacity as individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kind of acute stresses and shocks we experience,” she said.

In this regard, the council supported the creation of a water resilience task team under the leadership of the chief resilience officer, which had set about augmenting the city’s response to drought, ensuring that acute water shortages were avoided, and transforming Cape Town’s water landscape into one that ultimately relied less on surface water.

“Notwithstanding recent rains, the city is upscaling its efforts to secure new sources of temporary water supplies. We cannot bank on there being sufficient rain in the remainder of winter to break the drought. It will take at least three consecutive winters of above-average rainfall to make a real difference to the availability of surface water,” De Lille said.

On Monday, the city would formally post a request for ideas/information (RFI) to the market for proposed solutions that would enable the city to temporarily establish several small, intermediate and possibly even large plants to supply potable water.

It was contemplated that these plants could use reverse osmosis, desalination, or similar technology from sea water, other surface water sources or treated run-off. The city was looking for solutions that could produce between 100 million litres and 500 million litres of potable water per day.

The city sought to gauge the interest of for-profit and non-profit entities in forming possible partnerships with the city to supply, instal, and operate temporary plants at various locations along the sea shore and inland locations, for the injection of potable water into the city’s water distribution network.

It was envisaged that the first plants would be available for production towards the end of August this year.

The city would require these plants to be operational for at least six months but might require the plants to be in operation for a longer period of time. The city would conduct regular water quality tests at each of these sites, DE Lille said.

Responses to this RFI would help guide the city in determining the appropriate sourcing strategy.

The closing date for responses was 10 July and detailed information on the RFI could be found on the city’s website.

“It must be stressed that the temporary installation of water plants is intended to build resilience and to ensure that the households and businesses of Cape Town are not adversely affected by acute shortages of surface water.

“The drought is not a one-solution problem. More permanent solutions will be announced in the coming months. With this in mind, all residents of Cape Town are reminded that each person must use less than 100 litres of water a day, as per the requirements of the level 4 water restrictions,” De Lille said.