Cape Times

Key questions on Day Zero answered – it’s 3 months away

- Andrea Weiss World Wildlife Fund SA

FOR the past few months, Capetonian­s have been talking about Day Zero, when the city’s taps are expected to run dry. But what does this really mean?

In the first of a regular weekly update, WWF South Africa will be publishing a Wednesday Water File to help households and businesses in the Western Cape prepare for life beyond Day Zero when we will have access to very little water.

1 When is Day Zero likely?

At present, it is calculated to be on April 21, based on knowing how much water is in the big six dams that feed Cape Town and the Western Cape Water Supply System, and knowing how much water is being used by the city’s residents, by agricultur­e and what is evaporatin­g out of the dam. Day Zero has been inching closer. Substantia­l new water sources are not likely to come on line before April, so the only thing that can really push out Day Zero is if you and I use less water NOW!

2 What will happen on Day Zero? The city will move into full-scale Emergency Stage 3: water to households and businesses will be cut off.

There will not be enough water to maintain normal services and the taps (and toilets) will run dry.

Only vital services will still receive water: hospitals and clinics, stand-pipes in informal settlement­s and the 200 points of distributi­on where people can collect their allocated 25 litres a person.

All other mains water supplied by the city will be cut off. Most schools will have to close if they don’t have their own safe supply from boreholes or rainwater tanks. Many businesses will not be able operate unless they can provide temporary (off-mains) toilets and drinking water.

3 How long will Day Zero last?

We don’t know. It is likely that if we have the same amount of winter rainfall as last year we will not see an increase in the dams until August. It all depends on when rain falls in the water source areas that feed the dams.

4 When are the new water sources expected to come online?

The City’s dashboard shows most new sources (groundwate­r, desalinati­on and reclaimed water from wastewater treatment plants) are about 50% complete and some are behind schedule.

The 150 million litres (ml) a day of groundwate­r, 120ml of desalinate­d water and 22ml of reclaimed water are planned to come on line by the end of the year. This is not enough to meet Cape Town’s current demand of about 600ml/day.

Initial sources are expected to be ready by April/May, with larger volumes coming online from groundwate­r and desalinati­on in July/August.

5 Beaufort West also relied on groundwate­r and it has now dried up. How confident are we that we have enough groundwate­r?

Beaufort West was abstractin­g groundwate­r from different types of aquifers that had different volumes of water available as well as lower recharge rates than the aquifers targeted by the City. Cape Town is lucky to have three different aquifers within its area and close to the major water supply network. We will need to use stormwater and treated wastewater to enhance the recharge to aquifers). This has been successful­ly done at the Atlantis aquifer for more than a decade.

6 If I’m not strong enough to fetch and lift my city allocation of water, how will I get water?

During times of crisis, we need to look after each other more than ever, especially people who are elderly and unwell. Whatever happens, it’s likely that you will have to queue, carry and in some cases treat your own water.

We’re going to need to get to know our neighbours better and assist them where possible. We’ll be making detailed suggestion­s soon about what neighbourh­oods can do to get ready to get through the crisis together.

 ??  ?? SAVE IT: Every drop is precious as Day Zero draws nearer.
SAVE IT: Every drop is precious as Day Zero draws nearer.

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