Businesses prepare for Day Zero
Construction and hospitality prioritise water saving
CAPE Town property developers and hospitality groups are bracing themselves for the looming impact of Day Zero, and are doing everything they can to ensure their businesses continue running when they taps do not.
Factoring in additional water-saving measures, however, will push up the price of construction.
Beyond the normal business concerns around the ability of employees to get to work and other drought- related issues, David Cohen, managing director at Signatura, says the property development industry will need to ensure construction can continue by using alternative water sources and no longer relying on municipal services.
“We’ve already started planning for this eventuality and are looking at making current developments more self-sufficient as well as integrating off-grid technologies into future designs.”
Exactly how Day Zero will impact on the selling and marketing of residential and mixeduse developments “remains to be seen”.
“While there maybe be shortterm concern, people understand the situation is temporary and the trajectory of Cape Town real estate will continue to rise yearon-year. The development industry is a leading local employer and it is important that solutions to the problem are implemented that ensure reasonable functioning of the economy,” Cohen says.
The Rabie Property Group is implementing measures to ensure all its on-site construction activ- ities use only non-potable water.
“We are 80% there and will be 100% compliant within the next few weeks,” says director Miguel Rodrigues.
“The only potable water used on site thereafter will be for welfare, such as drinking and washing hands. We are doing this at Century City, Burgundy Estate and Clara Anna Fontein.”
In terms of Rabie’s readymix materials, such as concrete brought to site, Rodrigues says some suppliers are already operating only with non-potable water, and the others will be forced to follow suit to stay in business. These factors will carry price tags that will “invariably push up construction prices”.
“We understand the necessity of being at the forefront of saving water. As responsible developers we have to ensure we implement water saving measures in all our developments that force behaviour change in relation to potable water.”
Nicholas Stopforth, managing director of Amdec Property Developments, which is developing Harbour Arch, does not believe the water crisis in Cape Town is putting people off purchasing property in the city, but people are asking what developers are doing about it.
“As responsible developers, we are focusing on water- saving designs such as grey-water recyc- ling, rainwater harvesting and, where possible, desalination of ground water we are obliged to pump.”
Come Day Zero, the lack of water will have an impact on the construction industry at large.
Cobus Bekker, development director of Evergreen Lifestyle retirement villages, says: “We will adapt and become smarter in the way we use water. Waterless construction is the future of the construction industry in South Africa.”
Although cautious about making predictions, Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max Southern Africa, does not believe property prices or sales will see an immediate impact of the water crisis or Day Zero. However, homes with access to underground water will have a marketing advantage. Such installations will also provide great returns on investment.
The Cape Town hospitality industry is also making big adjustments. According to Tony RomerLee of PMR Hospitality Partners, finding sustainable solutions that make the most of existing water infrastructure through innovative technologies, recycling and carefully considered use of naturally occurring resources is now a “top priority for everyone” in the area.
Tsogo Sun has also been working on contingency plans to ensure it meets the needs of its guests while saving water, says John van Rooyen, operations director for Tsogo Sun in the Cape.
“These include taking three of our largest properties off the water grid in consultation with the City of Cape Town by desalinating water that is currently pumped out of our basements, and sourcing alternative water augmentation.”
Van Rooyen says staff members are monitoring water usage in line with stipulated targets through newly-installed dashboards. The group has also installed aerators and flow restrictors on taps, and inserted low pressure heads on showers.
Additional water-saving measures, such as replacing linen napkins in its restaurants with high-quality paper napkins and removing all bath plugs from guests’ rooms, have also been implemented. All confirmed hotel bookings are being honoured, says Van Rooyen.
Echoing this, Jeff Rosenberg, chairman of Fedhasa Cape, says all its member establishments, including hotels, guest houses and restaurants, are open for business and will keep operating.
The hospitality industry is a key economic driver in the province. From an economic perspective, it cannot afford a drop in revenue, he says.
“We encourage our members to continue communicating openly with their guests about the crisis and the effects. We are imploring members to encourage all guests, domestic and international tourists alike, to adopt the ‘Save like a Local’ slogan, and to join the rest of Cape Town in saving more water.”