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What you can do to prevent and plan for Day Zero


All information correct at time of going to print. 

On 30 January, 2018 two representatives from the City of Cape Town met with  Food Lover’s Market’s Head of Sustainability – Andrew Millson, the Environmental Manager – Siglinda Losch and Operations Managers and Heads of Departments across Food Lover’s Market and FreshStop. This included several franchisees from FreshStop @ Caltex stores, as well as representatives from Chevron. This meeting came at the request of Food Lover’s Market after previous engagements with the city towards the end of 2017 about what Food Lovers Market could be doing to help raise awareness of the drought situation.

The meeting entailed a briefing from the City of Cape Town regarding the status of the current water crisis and contingencies with regards to Day Zero – scheduled for 16 April 2018 at the time of the meeting.

An important fact worth noting is that Day Zero can still be avoided if all Capetonians across all industries and in their residential homes work together and meet the current restrictions in effect.  This remains Food Lover’s Market primary goal: to work with our people and our customers to avert Day Zero.

The City of Cape Town would like to thank Western Cape residents and businesses for what they have already achieved by lowering the daily consumption of water in our drought-stricken province.

What is the City of Cape Town doing?

Local government is building a number of desalination plants and drilling into aquifers to assist. These projects will only offer assistance after the current predicted date of Day Zero. The City of Cape Town envisions that the first desalination plants will be up and running around June 2018. However, this will not by any means make a huge impact on the amount of water needed in the Western Cape.

What do you, as a consumer or business owner need to know? Questions Answered.

What about the agricultural industry using water?

As of 31 January 2018, the agricultural sector no longer has access to the municipal dam water as they had requested and taken an early allocation of water. This will greatly impact the speed at which dam levels are currently falling and will help to push Day Zero back. Local Government urges the agricultural sector to urgently work on contingency plans, if they have not done so already.

What does this mean for our food security? Will there be a food shortage?

The Western Cape will likely have to import more food and this will come at a cost. Most importantly, there are over 30,000 people employed in this sector that will be impacted by the crisis. The City of Cape Town is working on potential grants to assist these employees.  

What must I do, as a business?

The City of Cape Town urges residents to work on continuity plans for their businesses to continue as best possible in this time. You may have heard that some areas, like the CBD, will not be affected. The City of Cape Town is working on releasing that information shortly and are following a meticulous criteria list to make the decision of which areas will and which will not have their water shut off. All residents and businesses are encouraged to work on continuity plans and not to rely that areas relevant to their home or business premises will fall in the City of Cape Town’s designated areas in which water will remain turned on.

I’ve been offered water to purchase, may I do so?

The City of Cape Town advise that you confirm the source of the water. The vendor you’re purchasing from need both a certificate and license to sell water. Please contact the City of Cape Town to find out more. The City of Cape Town is currently looking at increasing law enforcement regarding people bottling water informally without the correct skills and paperwork to do so.

My building is already green,  and has been for a while, I am struggling to meet the legislation to reduce commercial water consumption by 45%.

You need to present your case to the City of Cape Town with regards to your efforts and history of water consumption to be considered. Each appeal will be handled on a case by case basis regarding. The City of Cape Town will take into consideration how the new water tariff will affect your business.

Will the water supplying fire hydrants still be switched on and if not, will my commercial building space be considered safe?

No water will be issued to fire hydrants. The City of Cape Town recommends that a plan is put in place such as storage water linked to your fire systems, and increase the presence of fire extinguishers etc.

Must staff come to work if there is not sanitation?

If toilets are not working, staff do not have to come into the workplace. The City of Cape Town urges businesses to find alternative sources of water, or toilets to provide to their staff. Effluent water (non potable water) can be purchased at a reduced price from the City of Cape Town. We recommend you contact the City of Cape Town to purchase this low cost water, as it is safe to use to flush toilets. Alternatively, you can invest in onsite filtration to clean this water to a potable level.

Where will the water points be?

There are currently 150 water points that have been identified, with a further 50 to be confirmed. The City of Cape Town will officially confirm all water points. Water points will operate on average of 12 hours per day, pending consideration of the safety the staff manning the point and residents collecting water. If there is a queue at the “closing time” the point will do its best to accommodate those in the queue.

Will I have to pay for the water?

You will not have to pay for water at the point. You do not need to provide any form of documentation to collect your water.

How much water may I have?

Each person can take 25 litres. Alternately, one  person may take up to 100 litres for their family of four.

Why do some areas in the Western Cape appear not to have water restrictions?

Some municipalities have different levels, e.g. their level 2 might be equivalent to our level five or six. Please know that the crisis does however affect the entire Western Cape.

At what level will the water be switched back on?

That is to be assessed and decided by the Department of Water not the City of Cape Town.  

How long will the water be shut off?

Should we reach day zero, the city has indicated the water will be shut off for at least two to three months

Is borehole water allowed to be used?

While the borehole well belongs to you, remember the water is still property of the Department of Water. You may sink a borehole but you will  need a license to draw water. At the moment, licenses applications could take up to 300 days to receive. The City of Cape Town is however looking to speed up this process for businesses in this time of crisis. Ideally, businesses can apply and receive a license in a significantly reduced time period, but this will then be reviewed in a year or so.  

To find our more about what Food Lover’s Market is doing to prevent and plan for Day Zero, please read  our article of the same title: What Food Lover’s Market is doing to prevent and plan for Day Zero.


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