Day Zero plan for schools

Prestwich Primary School s principal were among the 1 000 principals who attended a meeting with Premier Helen Zille to discuss plans around keeping the school doors open despite concerns surrounding Day Zero.

Plans are in place for schools to stay open should the taps be turned off and Day Zero arrive.

This follows a meeting between Premier Helen Zille and 1 000 school principals on Wednesday January 31. Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town has announced that Day Zero has been pushed back to mid-May.

Ms Zille said that the focus of the investigation had been to ensure water security at schools, to ensure water for hygiene and fire security, and drinking water. She said the overall objective is to ensure that schools remain open after Day Zero.

“Cape Town can still avoid Day Zero if all residents use less than 50 litres of water per person, per day. This must be the first priority. However, the Western Cape Government must be ready to augment water supplies to schools, if consumption targets are not met and our dam levels reach 13.5% before the winter rains.

“At this point the City of Cape Town intends to turn off water to most areas in the metro, in order to manage and preserve the remaining supply. Our job is to make sure schools remain open and operational, with adequate alternative water supply to do so,” she said.

Ms Zille said most of the planned interventions covered the supply of non-potable water to schools, for hygiene and fire security. Potable water from some boreholes and packaged water would cover drinking needs.

Stuart Collier, of Camps Bay Primary School, who attended the meeting on Wednesday said it had been a useful information session and that the main objective was to keep schools open come day zero.

He said the school would be using borehole water for sanitation as well as encouraging the pupils to bring drinking water from home.

Mahdi Samodien, principal of Prestwich Primary School in Green Point, said he felt the meeting had been positive and agreed that schools had a big role to play in educating the pupils and their families.

“We have been wasting (water) and taking it for granted. If you drive half an hour to Khayelitsha, there are still places where they use the bucket system.”

He added that he was happy with Ms Zille’s commitment to ensuring that schools remained open.

About 270 schools are using smart metering to cut down on their water use, while the Western Cape Education Department has also issued programmed spreadsheets to schools to keep track of water usage.