1 November 2017

South Africa: #CapeWatergate - Business Under Strain in Cape Water Crisis


When water is scarce, the industry hardest hit is agriculture, where job losses are already projected to reach tens of thousands. As the Western Cape is discovering, however, there are other businesses that are heavily water-dependent - from the obvious (swimming pool installers) to the less obvious (abattoirs) - and taking serious strain in the water crisis. On the flip side, the amount of water dedicated for industrial use is also under scrutiny. By REBECCA DAVIS.

"Big business should be held to harsher water restrictions than individual consumers," wrote academic Nick Malherbe in a column for Business Day in February.

It's a view that's probably shared by many as the Cape water crisis intensifies. To give one example, social media is full of rumblings as to how Cape Town's water-heavy construction industry is seemingly continuing work unabated while individual consumers are asked to conserve every drop of water.

The City of Cape Town says that industrial water use makes up only a small fraction of Cape Town's total water use, however. Figures provided to Daily Maverick by Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member in charge of water, suggest that industrial water use in the city amounts to only 4.2% of...

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