‘From a threat to an imminent crisis’

These three photographs depict an example of what water collection points will be like.

Last year mayor Patricia de Lille told Capetonians “a well run City does not run out of water”, but she changed her tune last week, warning Day Zero was now “very likely”.

Cape Town is now bracing for a humanitarian crisis with fewer than 80 days to go before it becomes the first major city in the world to run out of water.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille met with the army, the police, National Disaster Management the State Security Agency, among others, at the Provincial Disaster Management Centre, at Tygerberg Hospital, on Monday, to discuss contingency plans.

She has also written to President Jacob Zuma, warning the drought had gone “from a threat to an imminent crisis” and urging him to declare a national disaster.

Meanwhile, work has started on the 200 collection points across the city where Capetonians will go for their daily 25-litre water ration, under armed guard, after the taps run dry. An announcement is expected soon from the City on where all the collections points will be.

Last week, council voted to ratchet up water restrictions to Level 6B from February 1, only a month after Level 6 restrictions started on January 1. Level 6B rations residents to 50 litres a day, or 6 000 litres a household a month to make up for the many months of missing the 500 million litre per day collective consumption target.

A planned drought levy was scrapped in favour of punitive tariffs with exponentially higher rates for those using more than 6 000 litres.

A household bill will jump from R28.44 to R145.98 at the 6 000-litre mark.

A household using 50 000 litres will pay thousands of rand more:
R2 888.81 to R20 619.57.

Ms De Lille said she would personally guarantee that residents using less than 6 000 litres a month would be exempt from the higher tariffs.

In a sternly worded statement last week, she warned the city had “reached a point of no return” and that Day Zero was now “very likely” to happen on April 21 because
60% of Capetonians were still “callously” using more than 87 litres a day.

Then this week, Day Zero jumped to Thursday April 12.

Level 6B will also limit irrigation using boreholes and wellpoints and the new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres a day.

Ward councillor Felicity Purchase said the City has a water collection test site in Maitland and local water collection points would be adapted according to circumstances. She
said they would be well lit, open 24 hours with round-the-clock secur-

There will also be an operations centre for reporting problems.

It was likely ration vouchers would be given to residents based on the sizes of their households. Residents would have to take their own containers to collect water.

There is likely to be a drive-through area and special arrangements will be made for the elderly, disadvantaged and disabled residents who will be accommodated separately.

The chairman of the Sunnydale Ratepayers’ Association (SRA), Chris Dooner, said, to date, they only have a vague idea of how the system will work and therefore any comment would be speculative.

However, he said the SRA committee would be meeting with Ms Purchase and a member of the South Peninsula Water Task Team on Monday February 5 to discuss water collection point procedure, water security and related plans for the area.

“After this meeting we will be better appraised. Until then comment from us would be premature, confusing and could well be dangerous,” he said.

The SRA would hold a meeting and use email and social media to brief residents once it had more information, he said.

“The situation is of great concern and will need precision planning, tight security, clear communication and most importantly for the authorities and community to work together,” he said.

Ms De Lille said teams are working around the clock to deliver the emergency plan for desalination, groundwater and water reuse however, this alone is not enough to avoid Day Zero without savings from all residents.

Water restriction violations can be sent to water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za

For more information on water usage, visit the City’s water dashboard at www.capetown.gov.za/dayzerodashboard