Day Zero looming

Cape Town is preparing for Day Zero, which could come into effect as early as April.

Day Zero would definitely have its impact on tourism but the industry is doing its best to avoid the taps running dry.
This is the message from CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy.

This could be a crucial few months for the management of the water crisis, with the taps predicted to run dry in April.
But it is also the busiest times of year for tourism, especially on the Atlantic seaboard and City Bowl.

Mr Duminy said Cape Town tourism had been running a water-saving campaign for a number of months as well as engaging with stakeholders.

“Day Zero would have an impact on us all. That’s why we’re looking at long-term measures that will help us avoid reaching this critical point,” he said.

Mr Duminy also said it was too early to tell if the water crisis had had a significant impact on the number of visitors this summer season.

“There is extensive messaging in hotels regarding the water shortages. This is in addition to practical measures the accommodation industry has taken such as removing bath plugs and encouraging guests to take two-minute showers, and reducing laundry routines. Besides the hotels, tourism businesses are acutely aware of the need for water conservation.”

According to Mr Duminy the Tsogo Sun had removed bath plugs and installed water restrictors on all showerheads.

All guests are issued with water-saving tips on check-in and signage reminding guests to save is visible in all public areas.

The V&A Waterfront announced recently that they would provide the land for a new desalination plant, for free. The modular land-based plant, which will produce two million litres of water a day, will be operational by February.

Through its platform, Airbnb is informing hosts and guests in the Cape Peninsula about the water restrictions and encourages its community to take tips from local authorities to help guide them to use water sparingly.

Monday January 15 was also the deadline for comments on the City of Cape Town’s proposed “drought levy” to be submitted.

The tax, proposed to be based on the value of a property (“Residents doubt drought levy”, Atlantic Sun, December 14 2017), was heavily criticised by civil society organisations, including the Camps Bay and Clifton Ratepayers’ Association and Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association.

Last week, embattled Mayor Patricia de Lille announced an extension for public comment on the matter, just days before the public participation process was due to have closed on Friday January 12.

In a statement last week, she said the drought charge was needed to make up the deficit in the City’s revenue which had come about due to residents’ water savings and paying significantly less for water and sanitation.

If the drought charge is approved in the January 2018 adjustment budget, it will raise approximately R420 million in the 2017/18 financial year and approximately R1 billion a year for the next three years.

“This is the fairest way to recover the City’s revenue shortfall by distributing the charge in such a way that those who can afford it will pay an amount based on their properties’ valuation. Only 464 200 households in the city out of a total of around 707 800 households will be affected by the charge,” said Ms De Lille.

The City of Cape Town also recently announced the introduction of Level Six water restrictions which came into effect on January 1.

As of the beginning of the year, excessive usage for domestic properties is classified as being more than 10 500 litres a month.

Properties where households consume more than
10 500 litres a month could be fitted with water management devices.

Residents who have valid reasons for monthly consumption higher than the 10 500 litre restriction limit, must apply to the City to get a quota increase before a device is installed (eg. there may be more than four people living permanently on the property, or for medical reasons).

“A household of four people should use far less than 350 litres per day. Most households actually use approximately 300 litres per day. However, households with high consumption typically use between 670 and
1 500 litres of municipal water per day, with some households using even more. This could be two to five times as much as the average household uses.

“With the average household size in Cape Town closer to three people, much can still be done to ensure that we are not queueing for water in March or April 2018. Our hot and dry summer is here. We are not going to be given many more chances to really reduce our water usage. We have to do it now,” added Ms De Lille.

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