‘Save water like your life depends on it’, says Zille, as army is on standby

Saving water is a matter of life and death now, says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.
Saving water is a matter of life and death now, says Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

In the event that Day Zero becomes a reality in Cape Town, the South African Police Service has devised a plan for police officers, the military and traffic officers to help monitor water distribution points across the metro.

In a statement released by Premier Helen Zille on Wednesday, she said Western Cape provincial commissioner Major-General Khombinkosi Jula had led a strategy meeting to the Cabinet on how the security cluster would keep the province secured, during a security briefing.

Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu said the strategy plan included the deployment of forces at the various points of distribution across the metro, regular patrols, and the escorting of water resources to critical points where necessary.

It also included the 24-hour monitoring of crime hotspots. The South African National Defence Force, military police, law enforcement and traffic officers would provide additional support.

Dam levels in the Western Cape are currently at 26.5%. The City of Cape Town has previously said that, when storage reaches 13.5%, it will turn off most taps, leaving only vital services with access to water.

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson on Tuesday announced that Day Zero had been brought forward by nine days, to April 12, due to a drop in dam levels.

On Monday, Zille said that she had written to President Jacob Zuma, asking for a national disaster to be declared after the likelihood of Day Zero was confirmed by the City of Cape Town.

“The reason that I think it would be useful to declare a national state of disaster is because then everything is in place for anything that we need to do that may require us to shortcut certain systems,” Zille said.

Mpofu said the provincial cabinet had resolved to take the necessary steps to recover the money from the national government to cover the cost of the current water crisis interventions.

“The provision of bulk water supply is a national government mandate. Where water supply has to be increased in emergency circumstances by the province or the city, it amounts to an unfunded emergency mandate, for which the costs have to be recovered,” Mpofu said. He said, according to the Constitution and the National Water Act, bulk water supply was a national competency of the department of water and sanitation.

According to Mpofu, managing the disaster would have to involve increasing bulk water supply, which the Western Cape government had to commission in the short term.

In the meantime, Zille urged residents to stick to the limit of 50 litres a person a day.

“While the Western Cape government continues to coordinate the current disaster, we can still avoid Day Zero if everyone remains within the limit. Save water like your life depends on it, because it does,” Zille said.

- News24

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