Extra boreholes being drilled for Groote Schuur Hospital

(Jenni Evans, News24)
(Jenni Evans, News24)

Cape Town - Drilling has started near Cape Town's Hospital Bend to find extra borehole water for Groote Schuur Hospital in case Day Zero is declared, the Western Cape's Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) said on Wednesday.

"Tygerberg Hospital, Red Cross Children's Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital are the most critical health facilities in the province's Water Business Continuity Plan (BCP)," said DTPW spokesperson Jandré Bakker.

"Boreholes drilled at Groote Schuur have only yielded 7 litres/second (l/s). To adequately water secure this critical facility, an additional water yield of approximately 2.8l/s is required."

The drilling for the hospital took place in the Table Mountain National Park area, in collaboration with SA National Parks (SANParks).

Also read: Borehole rules? Can you use sea water to flush? - The City of Cape Town answers your questions

An environmental control officer is overseeing drilling operations after SANParks gave the go-ahead.

"Three promising sites were identified and the national Department of Water and Sanitation has been informed about the project," said Bakker.

Water extracted during the pump testing phase will be stored for SANParks' fire-fighting purposes.

The water that is extracted after the testing phase will be treated and used for hygiene and fire safety at the hospital.

Groote Schuur Hospital is world-famous for the first successful heart transplant, led by Dr Christiaan Barnard on Louis Washkansky. It is also a government-funded teaching hospital.

Sites secured

Regarding the amount of water needed for scrubbing in, Bakker said that hospitals do not use water for scrubbing in before surgery – they use a waterless sanitiser.

"Of 68 initially identified critical Western Cape government service delivery sites in the province's Water BCP (Business Continuity Plan), sufficient ground water resources have so far been secured at 37 of these prioritised sites," said Bakker.

"So far 86 boreholes have been drilled, 64 of which have been pump-tested," the department's BCP project leader, advocate Gavin Kode said in a statement.

"Complete engineering designs for treating groundwater to potable standards and reticulating it are being implemented at these sites. Where it is not economically viable to treat groundwater to potable standards, such water will be reticulated only for hygiene and fire safety purposes," he said.

Bakker said that if Day Zero is declared on May 11, the City will move into phase two of its emergency water plan.

This rations people to 25 litres per person per day, collected from 200 points of distribution as the city's tap water system is shut down.

Bakker explained that there will still be water at hospitals.

However, if available water runs out and the City moves to Phase 3, hospitals will need to have their own back-up plan in place already.

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