#DayZero scenario could last as long as three months - City of Cape Town official

People collect water from the Newlands Spring Fountain in Cape Town. (Brenton Geach, Gallo Images)
People collect water from the Newlands Spring Fountain in Cape Town. (Brenton Geach, Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Cape Town residents could queue for water for up to three months when #DayZero operations kick-in, if people do not drastically reduce their consumption, member of the mayoral committee for safety and security aid JP Smith said on Sunday.

"It is possible that the Day Zero scenario could be as little as a few days, a few weeks, or, if we do not see significant savings, it could last for as long as three months.

"That is the scenario nobody wants, and... hence our diligent calls for people to save water."

READ: Water crisis is a 'governance disaster' - former Western Cape MEC

This all depends on whether the current augmentation schemes such as boreholes extracting water from aquifers expand supplies, how much people save, and when the rains start.

As the city ramps up the volume on its "save or queue" mantra, it already has 186 points for water distribution (Pods) finalised, with another 14 expected to get the all-clear this week. They are expected to be as accessible as voting stations.

Official discretion

If #DayZero is declared, about 75% of the city's water network will be shut off and people will be allocated 25l each at the "Pods".

Identity documents will not be required to fetch water, but officials on site will use their discretion to monitor potential abuse. Guest houses and other establishments that need more water will be subjected to quick checks.

Schools and hospitals will not be cut off and arrangements - which include volunteers and neighbourhood watches - are being finalised to make sure the elderly do not go without water.

Informal settlements will not be cut off, but water use will be managed.

There is also a possibility that set times for flushing toilets will be set, as there will not be enough water in the system for random flushing.

The city has signed an agreement with the SA Police Service and the SA National Defence Force to help maintain the peace.

Day Zero will be announced via television and radio when the dams that serve the city reach 13.5% full. They are currently at 26.8%.

Smith said Day Zero could fall in April, given the rate some people are still using water, or in June, days before the winter rains set in.

New regulations for the use of borehole water will kick in with the Level 6B restrictions on February 1. The Level 6B regulations will limit consumption per person to 50l per person per day.

In terms of these regulations, borehole water may also only be used for the essentials like flushing a toilet and basic household use.

The city is also planning a crackdown on water shops which are not allowed to sell municipal water unless they have a licence.

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