Busi­nesses pre­pare for Day Zero

Con­struc­tion and hos­pi­tal­ity pri­ori­tise wa­ter sav­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY - BONNY FOURIE

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.”

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