Day Zero moves nine days closer for Cape Town in just a week

23 January 2018 - 16:57 By Dave Chambers
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

Day Zero for Cape Town has moved nine days closer in a week‚ and is now expected on Thursday April 12.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson‚ who has taken over management of the water crisis from mayor Patricia de Lille‚ said on Tuesday that unless Capetonians reduced their water use by almost 25% with immediate effect‚ taps would run dry in 79 days.

Dam levels had fallen by 1.4 percentage points in the past week and stood at 27.2%‚ he said. Only 41% of Capetonians were using less than 87 litres of water a day‚ and from February 1 everyone in the city would need to reduce their daily consumption to 50 litres for at least 150 days.

Neilson said: “The city is making an enormous effort to delay Day Zero by rolling out aggressive pressure-management operations across the city‚ installing thousands of water management devices on the properties of high users and ensuring that we better our record-low overall water loss percentage of 16%. Our average first response time to reported leaks and bursts is less than two hours.”

All but one of the city council’s seven supply augmentation projects‚ involving desalination of seawater and extraction of groundwater‚ are running behind schedule‚according to the updated dashboard.

Neilson said the operational plan for Day Zero and beyond was still being finalised‚ based on international best practice.

The plan for 200 water distribution points across the city involved “anticipating what strategies households and businesses will employ to meet their water needs in the case of Day Zero‚ and how these strategies can be supported by designing and managing these collection points in a way that makes ergonomic sense”. Neilson added: “It is important we manage and organise these water distribution points in a way that does not frustrate household or business strategies to access water as efficiently as possible.

“It is crucial that we spend the time to troubleshoot these water distribution points effectively. A city disaster risk management team is dedicated to this task and is consulting widely to make sure that we can accurately anticipate all possible factors which will affect queue length‚ safety and health risks at the sites.

“If we want this disaster plan to be adopted with as little risk and inconvenience as possible‚ we need to look at the local context of each water distribution point. We need to build flexibility into the design of this plan to ensure that we can address any contingencies as they arise.

“In addition to looking at water provision and distribution‚ the plan will also focus on safety and security‚ health and sanitation‚ as well as mobilising communities to help us assist vulnerable groups and individuals.

“A briefing on this plan will be arranged within the next 10 days.”

Meanwhile‚ Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will meet the principals of all schools in the greater Cape Town‚ Drakenstein‚ Stellenbosch and West Coast municipalities in the coming week. The managers of health facilities would be addressed separately‚ said a statement from Zille's office on Tuesday.

"Detailed plans for securing water supply to schools and health facilities will be discussed with the leadership of these sectors‚" said Zille's spokesman‚ Michael Mpofu.

"There are about 1000 schools within this area. The provincial government has conducted an assessment of the approximately 400 schools with existing boreholes. The majority of these boreholes require minimal work to operationalise for hygiene and fire safety purposes‚" he said.

"Plans are currently being finalised for schools that require additional support to secure their water supply. A range of measures are under consideration‚ including additional water storage and the distribution of water to schools.

"The provincial government intends to ensure that schools remain open and operational should Day Zero be reached in the metro."

Water supplies for most health facilities had already been secured‚ said Mpofu.

"The province’s groundwater programme has targeted health facilities as the highest priority. Drilling of boreholes has taken place at these facilities. Further testing and reticulation systems are being dealt with.

"Security measures at both school and health facilities are also being considered as part of the province’s plans‚ and additional resources will be sourced where necessary."


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