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STATEMENT BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE DEPUTY MAYOR, ALDERMAN IAN NEILSON

I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to all Capetonians who have been redoubling their efforts to save water.

To those of you who are not yet part of the massive water-saving efforts that are under way in Cape Town, we urge you to join friends, neighbours, colleagues and Team Cape Town as a whole in beating back Day Zero.

Unfortunately, due to a drop in the dam levels of 1,4%, Day Zero has, as of today, moved forward to 12 April 2018.

However, it is still possible to push back Day Zero if we all stand together now and change our current path.

Now is the time to do so. We will not be getting second chances.

The City is making an enormous effort to delay Day Zero by rolling out aggressive pressure management operations across the city, installing thousands of water management devices on the properties of high users and ensuring that we better our record low overall water loss percentage of 16% (compared to the national average of 36%). Our average first response time to reported leaks and bursts is less than two hours.

Our desalination, aquifer and water recycling projects aimed at providing additional water are ongoing but will not provide sufficient supply to help us avoid Day Zero this year. They will, however, help us to become more resilient in weathering our next dry season.Our main focus at this point must be on what we can do now to prevent our taps running dry by April. By joining us in our water-saving drive, you, your friends, neighbours, colleagues and social groups can help us to avoid Day Zero. 

This week’s dashboard: 

Dam levels 27,2% –       1,4% down
% of Cape Town saving 41%  
Total usage 586 million litres per day 86 million above the target

From 1 February the critical threshold will be 450 million litres per day. Users will be required to use 50 litres per person per day for 150 days at least. 

We are in the process of finalising our operational plan for Day Zero. Our Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan draws from international best practices, and decisions around the basic design and distribution of water collection points reflect what other cities around the world have implemented when faced with extreme drought conditions.

The Disaster Risk Management Department has been looking at how these water collection points can be managed to ensure efficiency is maximised. This involves anticipating what strategies households and businesses will employ to meet their water needs in the case of Day Zero, and how these strategies can be supported by designing and managing these collection points in a way that makes ergonomic sense.

It is important we manage and organise these water distribution points in a way that does not frustrate household or business strategies to access water as efficiently as possible. It is crucial that we spend the time to troubleshoot these water distribution points effectively. A City Disaster Risk Management team is dedicated to this task and is consulting widely to make sure that we can accurately anticipate all possible factors which will affect queue length, safety and health risks at the sites.

If we want this disaster plan to be adopted with as little risk and inconvenience as possible, we need to look at the local context of each water distribution point. We need to build flexibility into the design of this plan to ensure that we can address any contingencies as they arise.

In addition to looking at water provision and distribution, the plan will also focus on safety and security, health and sanitation, as well as mobilising communities to help us assist vulnerable groups and individuals.

A briefing on this plan will be arranged within the next 10 days.

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