Tag Archives: life

Natural Selection

Baby Geese

Natural Selection

Tiny Guinea Fowl chick abandoned by your flock

Scratching in the dirt as you’ve seen your parents do

But without their guidance and protection

And only a few inches tall

You will not survive alone

Breakfast for the Magpie chicks?

Sadness

Heart-rending peeps follow me down the path

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Egyptian goose with the badly broken leg

Each halting step agonisingly painful

Yet still you hobble near your chicks

Protecting them alongside your partner

Your commitment ensuring

The survival of your genes

Endurance

Raucous screeches follow me down the street

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On our walks around the neighbourhood Little Monkey and I have come across many new-born chicks: Guinea Fowl and Egyptian Geese.

When I see an injured or abandoned bird it is hard not to interfere, but there is nothing to be done. The injured bird is still protecting its chicks and the abandoned chick will either survive on its own, or not. It had a near miss when LM spotted it before me!

I did search for the parent Guinea Fowl, with the intention of guiding the baby chick back to their safety, but they were nowhere to be seen. Guinea Fowl are notoriously bad parents.

It reminds me that life out there in the ‘wild’ is tough.

It really is the survival of the fittest.

 

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Sunday Musings #148

I’m allergic to stupidity. I break out in sarcasm.

– Unknown

What can I say? I know that sarcasm is supposed to be the lowest form of wit, but sometimes one cannot resist!

 

Day Zero – Now What?

Raindrops

Basically, Day Zero will not now happen in 2018, and probably not in 2019 either. Day Zero: the day the taps would be turned off in Cape Town, if the dam levels fell to 13%. See Day Zero and Day Zero – Update.

Weekly Drought Monitoring

This is because Cape Town received some rain this winter, mostly in May, with a little in June, virtually none in July (which used to be our wettest month!) and some this August, as you can see from the graph above.

Dam Levels 20 August 2018

The dams have just reached the 60% mark I was hoping for. Hooray! (You can see in the graph above that for this week in 2017 the dams were only 32% full!)

This puts us out of the danger zone for a while. The water should last us over the upcoming long, dry, hot summer months, until the next winter rains can be expected in May 2019.

However, all water restrictions are still in place and these are severe. Each person is allowed only 50 litres of water a day. Drinking water cannot be used for any purpose other than drinking and household requirements. You are not allowed to wash your car, water your garden or top up your swimming pool.

You can use grey water (dirty water, such as water already used for washing clothes or dishes, and unsuitable for drinking) to flush your toilets or water your garden.

Dam Levels 2014 to 2018

So what was all the fuss about then?

Well, if Capetonians had continued to use water at the rate we used to do, which was about 1.2 billion litres a day, we would definitely have run out of water (some time back in April this year). We now use about 500 million litres a day; a significant reduction.

There had to be “scare tactics” and strict regulations made. People who refused to reduce their water usage were heavily fined and had water metres fitted that would shut off the water supply to their property after their allotted amount was used up for the day.

If people had not been woken up to the facts and that queuing for water would be a very real possibility, most people would not have saved enough water. Sadly it is just human nature. “It rained yesterday therefore we have water.” “If there was a problem they’d switch the water supply off.” etc

What irked me in all this was the world view. I felt the rest of the world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying, “How could they be so stupid and not plan for this?”

I repeat again: It Did Not Rain!

2014 was fine, dams 100% full.
2015 less rain, but still fine.
2016 less rain again, but OK.
2017 hardly any rain at all!

As you can see from the graphs above and below.

Ten Year Graph of Dam Levels

Water Augmentation Projects were in place before the drought struck, but not for the immediate future, rather for 2020 to 2025. These projects are still underway with more proposed. Large desalination plants are very expensive! Water is being produced already, but nowhere near yet, to the 500 ML needed per day.

Water Augmentation

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By now everyone is used to the small amount of water they’re allowed to use daily here in Cape Town.

But it would be nice to take a shower for more than 90 seconds or have a bath in more than 2 cm of water!

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post script: The graphs shown here are for the week beginning Monday 20 August 2018. You can visit the City of Cape Town website for current information.

 

Day Zero

Where’s All the Water?

Day Zero

The day they turn off the taps in Cape Town.

The photo shows Sparky the squirrel looking in my pool, wondering where all the water has gone. The top white line shows where the water used to be and the bottom line where it is now.

You might have heard about Day Zero in the international news lately.

Actually, our drought has been going on for the last three years, caused by below average rainfall in our winter months of June and July.

People cite bad planning and foresight and an increased population. However, although the population of CT has increased over the years, the water consumption has not. The main reason for the drought is hotter temperatures than usual and three bad winter rainfalls.

Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall. Normally enough rain falls over those winter months to fill our many large dams and supply the whole of the Cape Town area with plenty of drinking water to last right through the long dry summer months.

Dam Levels over the Years

This has not happened for the last three years. The dams have not filled after the winter rains. In fact, last year, 2017, our dam levels got as low as 19% before we finally got some rain. It just wasn’t enough rain.

The dams are currently at a total capacity of 24.6%. When the level reaches 13.5% they turn off the taps.

The last 10% of water in the dams is very difficult to use. Basically it’s just sludge. So before they reach this, they turn off the taps at 13.5 %.

Dam Levels

They won’t turn off the taps for essential services, such as hospitals, or for the townships and the CBD.

This leaves a few % left in the dams for the above uses and also for manual distribution where you queue for your own personal ration.

So you, and the other 4 million Capetonians, will have to queue every day, at one of the 200 odd distribution points that will be set up around the city, for your 25 litre ration of drinking water

This is Day Zero.

Day Zero is a prediction that changes depending on how much water is used each week and whether it rains. It was as close as 12 April at one point.

It has very recently been pushed back by a few weeks because farmers at Grabouw released 10 billion litres of water stored in their own private dams to the CT dam system.

The estimate I most trust is currently at 30 April.

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Most Capetonians are doing their very best to try to avoid Day Zero. Our daily allowance of water was 87 litres per person per day. This has been further reduced to 50 litres per person per day. When the taps are turned off you will be allowed just 25 litres per person per day, which you will have to go and queue for. Any pets you may have will have to share your ration.

You are not allowed to water your garden, wash your car, top up your swimming pool, or waste water in any way. There are serious fines for doing so. This is why my pool is so empty in the squirrel photo.

It is up to each individual to reduce their water consumption as much as possible right now and the majority of us are doing just that.

How?

By re-using water as much as possible.

Grey Water 

This is water previously used, for washing etc and then re-used to flush toilets or water plants. Bore hole water is also Grey Water. It is not clean enough to drink.

How to reduce water consumption.

Take a 90 second shower, fitted with a special shower head, and with a bucket in the shower to catch water. Or take a bath in only a bucket or two of water and keep the plug in. Then you can scoop out every last drop of bath water. This Grey Water can be used to flush the toilet.

Wash dishes once a day in a small amount of water.

Wash clothes once or twice a week on the shortest cycle. I have a sink that my washing machine empties into. I put the plug in and scoop all that Grey Water out to re-use too.

If the water is not too soapy you can put it on your plants. Otherwise, you can pour it down your loos and never have to actually flush again.

In toilets in shopping centres they have turned off the water in the taps and replaced the soap in the dispenser with hand sanitiser.

At many restaurants they also have hand sanitiser out for use instead of soap and water. They also limit the amount of water they bring to you. This is a hot country and many posher restaurants would serve you a tall glass of ice water when you sat down.

There are signs up at the airport when you arrive in Cape Town, alerting you to the drought and asking you to save water.

Most hotels also encourage you to save water by taking a short shower.

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What is CT doing about the drought?

The Cape Town government website has a lot of information and other links to click on. This is where I got the above graphs from.

There are several projects being developed, such as desalination plants, recycling, finding ground water, but none of these is finished yet.

The following clips are about 5 minutes long and will give you an idea of what is really going on here and not just the news stories.

CT water crisis.

What’s the government doing?

Watch a little for the CT accent if nothing else!

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What do I think of Day Zero?

I think we’ll run out of water towards the end of April; maybe mid-May if we’re lucky. I think we’ll have at least a month with no water in the taps, before it rains and the dams start to fill  up. Sometime after this, like next year, I think the desalination plants will start to come on line. So hopefully we won’t go through all this again next summer.

I think Capetonians will rise to the challenge and adapt, with a sense of humour. If there’s nothing you can do about it, then just make the most of it. Here is your chance to learn a new language, or finally start that book you’ve always been meaning to read (War and Peace?), while you stand for hours on end every day in the water queue!

Or if there is no water, drink your vodka neat – no ice cubes! (Every bit helps!)

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post script: This post took me many, many hours to write, with 27 revisions. Several of my readers have been asking about the drought, so I hope I have answered most questions.

 

Anti-Valentine’s Day

Day Zero Rose

I don’t “Do” Valentine’s Day.

If I love someone, it’s every day.

I don’t need companies selling expensive cards or heart-shaped chocolates to make money out of me. I don’t condone roses being sold at a higher price today, because now they are in demand!

Still, I know from past years that most of WP will be full of gooey Valentine stuff.

That’s fine!

But here’s my contribution.

David Bowie singing Valentine’s Day.

hehehe

(Still miss you David!)

Yes, I know I’ve posted David before. But really, he beats all other Valentine’s Day offerings hands down!

This one’s for you, Pix.