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Drought: Cape’s day zero looms large

De Lille says the council has introduced the first of three phases

05 October 2017 - 07:55 By Dave Chambers
File photo.
File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

Intermittent water supply‚ followed by having to collect water in buckets under the supervision of soldiers: this is Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s vision of the near future if the city’s dams run dry.

After meeting Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane‚ De Lille outlined the council ’s disaster plan on Wednesday.

She begged Capetonians to save more water‚ warning that day zero — when dams are no longer usable — would arrive in March.

She said it was vital to plan for the worst case scenario‚ saying the city council had activated the first of three Disastermanagement phases.

Phase one: extreme reductions in water pressure to force down consumption.

“As water rationing is intensified‚ some areas will have intermittent‚ localised‚ temporary water supply disruptions‚” she said, advising residents to store five litres of water as an emergency supply.

“Critical services, such as clinics and hospitals, will be largely unaffected and mitigation measures will be put in place if they experience intermittent water supply.”
In phase two, water collection points would be introduced. “Residents could collect a predefined quantity of drinking water per person per day.”

Council law enforcement officers‚ the police and soldiers would be deployed “to ensure that general safety is maintained throughout the city”.
“Strategic commercial areas‚ high - density areas with increased risk of disease and fires [most informal settlements] and critical services [hospitals] would continue to receive drinking water through normal channels.”

In the final phase there
would be a limited
period before complete water system failure

In the “extreme disaster” phase‚ when dams expired‚ “there would be a limited period in which the city could supply water before complete water system failure”.

The city’s temporary desalination plants‚ for which tenders have been sought‚ would start to produce fresh water from December or January. Additional water from the Atlantis and Silverstroom aquifers‚ and recycled water from the Zandvliet treatment plant‚ would be available from January or February.

WATCH | The disaster plan: What will happen if Cape Town runs out of water?