City bracing for Day Zero

Cape Times
Tuesday January 23, 2018

A SCRAMBLE has begun to grip the city as the reality of standing in long queues to get daily allocations of water from a collection point sets in – and Day Zero looms.
In the face of growing anxiety, the City has confirmed it is now engaging with major food retailers on whether they can act as additional water distribution points to increase the number of sites where people can collect water more easily.

City safety and security and social services executive director Richard Bosman said the City is also planning to use tankers to deliver water to key institutions, including old age homes and homeless shelters.

“The (200) water distribution points are one of the means through which water will be distributed to the public and is just one layer of the strategy.
“The City has done an enormous amount of work over the past months to look at all the requirements for a disaster of this scale should it occur. Further work continues,” Bosman said.

The assessment of the 200 proposed collection sites has been finalised, he said, and further details would be made available soon.

“The Disaster Risk Management Department has been looking at how these water collection points can be managed to ensure efficiency is maximised. This involves 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 sense,” Bosman said.

It is important the City organise these water distribution points in a way that does not frustrate the strategies of households or businesses to access water as efficiently as possible. “The base Water Disaster Plan developed by the City of Cape Town is drawn up from international best practice,” he said.

According to the City’s water dashboard, dam levels stand at 28.7%, with usable water at about 18%.

Premier Helen Zille yesterday met National Disaster Management, the South African Defence Force, the State Security Agency and other role-players in Cape Town.

All except one of the City’s major augmentation schemes are behind schedule. Overall these projects, including the Cape Town Harbour Desalination plant and harnessing of the Cape Flats Aquifer, are about 57% complete.

Day Zero – the day the City will turn off most taps – is marked as April 21.

Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance chairperson Philip Bam said residents were now questioning the logistics of how Day Zero would work.
“People are realising that this is a real crisis and that the prospect of having to queue for water is real,” Bam said.
Among concerns noted was how residents would get to a collection point and transport the water home. “People have to get to the distribution points. That is another cost to the household and they feel they have made every effort to save money and water and now they are being penalised for saving water because the City needs to make up its loss in revenue.”
Bam said there was a fear violence could break out.
“I fear there will be frustration, violence, service delivery protests over water. People are going to say ‘I don’t have water and it’s not my fault’.”

Zille confirmed she had written to President Jacob Zuma requesting that a national disaster be declared.

Zille also met the SAB at their Newlands facility to discuss the bottling of 12 million bottles of water for parts of the City should the taps be turned off in residential areas.

1 comment to City bracing for Day Zero

  • LB

    Can somebody please explain why there is water restrictions if the upper Steenbras dam is 85% full and services Helderberg and Cape Town?

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