Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Tag: drought (Page 1 of 2)

Water Tariff Middle Finger

This is an open letter to the City of Cape Town and local government.

Dear CoCT and all involved in the design and rollout of the new water tariff hike,

I want you to know that I have just done something radical. I have had my first five minute shower since September. I did not save one drop of grey water to use elsewhere. I know it is immature, but I needed to wash the unbelievably bitter taste out of my mouth and the itchy skin crawls off my bone dry body.

See, I have taken this drought very damn seriously. Our first attempts were haphazard and experimental, but now our water saving is totally on track. Our household has been consistent in using under 50l of water per person per day pretty much from the day the last severe water restrictions were announced. Our bath is filled with grey water for flushing, our pot garden is virtually dead, our stoep is covered in building dust and highway pollution but cannot be washed, our car sees water only when it rains and we have spent a fortune on drinking water for ourselves and our animals.

I must also state up front that I was, against the tide, in support of the scuppered water price hikes that would have seen home owners pay more for water based on the size and value of their property. I was so annoyed that the rich and privileged showed their ignorant and whining voices when this came up, and that it was these voices that won.

As punishment, your new sliding scale targets two kinds of people. 1. Those of us who have taken restrictions seriously. 2. The poor. No matter how I look at it, those who use the least amount of water will pay the highest prices. High users pay less. The more you use the less you pay. Am I missing something here?

In every way you favour the rich and powerful in our city and give the middle finger to the poor. And I am gatvol. Sies. Clean up your act.

#DayZero – open letter to the City of Cape Town

Dear City of Cape Town

I am really in a very bad mood with you guys. Truth is, I feel like you are taking the piss, and I don’t think you should be taking anything right now. I am sitting here, sipping my bought water very slowly, trying not to sweat because I can’t shower, and failing to control my temper because I cannot believe your disgusting behaviour.

Without virtue signalling, like madam premier, I have been a dedicated and high performing water saver. We have drastically reduced our water usage, have systems in place to use all grey water and we buy drinking water for humans and pets. I  support and encourage all efforts by our neighbours, friends and even further afield on social media, and I interact and intervene with people in public and work spaces to create further awareness.

Not that it matters, but I was one of the very, very few who was vocal in my support of increased water tariffs based on the value of my property, even though I knew the suggestion was because you guys were caught in a catch 22; asking for people to use less water meant you had created a cash flow problem and were getting less hard cash.

I was active in solving your mistakes when you installed our new water meter and it leaked. I was proactive in getting us back onto the system when you guys couldn’t see what the problem was, even though our meter hadn’t been read for over a year after being installed and our water was estimated.

I am perfectly comfortable with the effort I have made to bring my water usage down to the targets you have set every time they have changed, and I have been living fearfully with the idea of #DayZero as a real possibility.

So, now I feel you guys need to come to the party you forced me to attend.

Let’s start with your hideous, inappropriate mascot. Please explain who signed that off and then who executed it. How did that pass any kind of inspection? Who thought that was cool? Who pays for it? Honestly, I have seen better outfits at charity shops.

Let’s move on to the helicopter banner. Who is paying for the helicopter and banner that flies around our skies with Day Zero, Save Water on it. That’s it. How do you imagine justifying the cost of that? My brain hurts when I think about it. Help me understand how this is an effective part of your awareness campaign.

Finally, I see via the news yesterday that there is a glitch in your new water monitoring system that you have just switched over to and you will be charging us for water based on last year’s usage for the same month. So, last year our water meter was broken, and the reading was an estimation on the year before. Also, we will now not have an accurate (or even general) reading so we can see our usage and our water saving. Plus, water prices have gone up, so we will be paying more for water we haven’t actually used. No. This does not compute.

We need your help here if you want us to play ball. I am sick of your threatening ads warning us about what is going to happen if we don’t do what you say, when you ride roughshod over all our efforts and betray us when it matters. I am shocked that you have made no real inroads in reducing water consumption in the bad suburbs of Constantia, Fresnaye and Camps Bay when my Woodstock is coming in well under target.

Your handling of this drought has left so much to be desired. You have lurched from shouting school headmaster to ‘our-hands-are-tied’ blamers of National government. Now, as I sit here seething at the sound of that helicopter circling for the fourth time over a very water wise suburb, I want you to understand how I feel. I feel like Mrs. Kippie, and you are taking me for one.

Poem for Water

It is raining as we get on the plane

Raindrops trail on the outside double window

A taunt.

The tarmac is wet and slick

And sounds are water muted

Our showered bodies smell clean

But we feel somehow unprepared for our return

To the dry land

The panic land

The brown land

The bone sand dam

The hollow dry bed

The withered pot plant

The turned off tap

The unused pipes

The dirty sheets

The threat of fires.

Our throats dry in the pressurised cabin

And our tiny bottles of bought sparkling water

Are drops in the sky from up here

They will pass through our bodies before we leave the air.

This last week of swimming

And summer thunderstorms

And pink centred bromeliads holding minature worlds of water

For frogs and bugs

And taps for feet washing

And balconies dripping rainwater onto the balconies below

And gathering more and then dripping onto the balconies below

Has felt so tropical and abundant.

I am drying up and out

As I head home.

The Privilege of Water

I am sitting on the couch with wet hair dripping onto my shoulders after the longest shower to wash sea salt and sand off my body after a vigorous swim in the Indian Ocean.

It’s the final day of a week-long holiday for us. We were invited by my family to join them for a week at timeshare in Umhlanga, and mostly it has been a break from the devastating reality of the drought in Cape Town. We left our animals and house in the care of a house sitter who had to negotiate our makeshift grey water storage in the bathtub for toilet flushing, a courtyard full of plants clinging to life with only dishwater to sustain them and boxes of bought water for human and animal consumption.

We left Cape Town but took the paranoia and panic with us, and it has slowly crept up the scale again today, as we think about our return home tomorrow. Never before have I considered so deeply my privilege. I have had a week of proper escape from my real life. There are working taps on pathways for holidaymakers to wash their sandy feet. There are working fresh water showers on the beach. Our resort towels may be exchanged for fresh ones whenever we want to, and if we leave shower towels on the floor that means we want fresh ones. Drinks are served with tons of ice. Lawns around us are watered. I heard the forgotten sound of sprinklers watering the plants on the promenade.

Whenever anyone finds out that we are from Cape Town they start talking about the drought. Holiday makers from inland (Jozi and Pretoria mainly) tell stories of friends and family who visited Cape Town in December and who were shocked by the severity of the drought. Cape Town’s status as a ‘premier destination’ has taken a huge knock, and the general opinion is that huge events like the cycle tour should be cancelled because of the strain they place on water usage. My Jozi friends are part of water collection drives, and I am moved when I get whatsapp updates about water being sent to animal shelters.

I am turning my head to what I return to tomorrow. I haven’t been online much, but every time I have stuck my nose onto Facebum I have seen friends posting about water fights at Newlands, shelves at shops being empty, hand sanitiser and wet wipes being sold out, and tips for further reducing consumption. I am frightened, and it is the fear of both what we have done, what we have ignored, and how we honestly believed it could never happen.

 

Noah of Cape Town, A prophecy of Drought

In 2003 Graham Weir and I sat down to turn an idea for a story into a fully fledged, futuristic accapella musical, set in Cape Town in the near future. It took us two years to finish the writing and get something of Noah of Cape Town onto stage. This took the form of a cantata version as part of Artscape’s New Writing Programme. In the cantata in 2005, Noah of Cape Town was set in 2012. It described Cape Town as an arid landscape where water was so scarce what little of it had to be guarded by the military. Politicians were involved in hideous water scandals and the city had ground to a halt. There was an illegal black market for water. When we started fleshing the thing out once Simon Cooper had agreed to produce the full version we shifted the timeline and set it in 2020 because 2012 was too close.

The full, amazing premier of Noah of Cape Town took place in August of 2009, almost 9 years ago. As I write this we are 3 months away from Day Zero. The day our taps will be switched off and we will have to queue for 25l of water. The Cape Town we warned about in a fantastic, futuristic, dystopian ‘what if?’ has arrived.

We didn’t pull the theme out of thin air. We were worried about Cape Town and water scarcity. We saw what was happening with the migration of people to the city, refugees from the North, the expansion of Cape Town, the corruption of politicians and officials. We knew there was going to be a water crisis. And we knew this in 2003.

We cannot have been the only ones.

 

Drought


In the last couple of days I have received whatsapps and emails and Facebum messages asking me to write my objections to a water levy for us Capetonians, based on the value of our houses, and the rates and taxes we pay. Aside from the fact that Woodstock has had rate hikes only commensurate with the hideousness of most new developments in it, I remain committed to the idea of a water levy, asking people who OWN their houses to pay more for the privilege of running water.

I have made my disgust known with our local government’s handling of the water crisis. Every single element of this utter disaster can be laid squarely at their feet. The looming water crisis in the Western Cape has been known for decades, and government’s cavalier ignoring of the warning signs is virtually criminal. Their usual Jonny come lately, blame everybody else, punishing, threatening style has never been more obvious. They have blamed the citizens of the city, national government, the weather, influx of people to the province; you name it they blame it.

This local government has wasted money on ads where our corrupt mayor whines about showering in a bucket, without any of the irony that that is how the majority of people have been washing for their entire lives.

The depth of this crisis is only now starting to be uncovered, with discoveries that most of our bottled water comes from our severely depleted dams, farming using at least 80% of our scarce resources, and the knee jerk building of temporary desalination plants as effective as wearing protection after having sex.

I wake up every day in a slight panic about water, and Day Zero. It is not a joke. Every time I flush I am reminded of the hideous and inappropriate colonial fuckery we inherited from a water abundant thinking British system. Flushing waste into drinking water is like using DDT on our food. Sickening. Yes, this system is 100% terrible for our particular condition, yet no long term plans for different systems are even being considered.

But, water in South Africa still remains inconceivably cheap. And it is mostly those who can afford it who have the greatest access. By that I mean taps with running water, flushing loos, boreholes, washing machines, dishwashers. In properties owned by people.

So, simply, if you own your property you should pay more for the privilege of having water. Stop complaining about that part of the problem. Suck it up. And, instead of behaving like your corrupt and immature local government, be part of the solution, even if it is paying an extra R150 a month, at the most. Take a deep breath and think about who you are, and where you are, and how you live.

PS. Also, avoid the Water Shedding Cape Town groups on Facebum, unless you want daily access to the worst trolls, haters, blamers and idiots.

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