First the wind and now no water: How the Cape drought will affect the Cape Town Cycle Tour

Cape Town - One of South Africa's most anticipated sporting events will be implementing drastic measures as the host city, Cape Town struggles with an ongoing drought. 

While the race is not going to be cancelled, the organisers say they have had to take into consideration drastic measures that will take the event completely off the grid and see it not using a drop of municipal water. 

Cape Town residents and businesses are facing #DayZero on 12 April - the day when taps are set to run out of municipal drinking water.

Large-scale events such as the Cape Town Cycle Tour have been called into question - with their economic impact weighed against that of the stress it places on the city's capacity to provide water.  

SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: Two Oceans Marathon water saving measures in place ahead of Day Zero

'Scorching temperatures, winds in excess of 100km/h and now no water'

For the last decade, the Cycle Tour has been presented with a variety of challenges – from scorching temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celcius, to extensive fires raging across the South Peninsula and, last year, winds in excess of 100km/h. 

"This is our year of water – or rather, no water," says Cape Town Cycle Tour Director David Bellairs, speaking at a press briefing held in Cape Town.    

SEE: Cape Water Crisis: Cycle Tour to save 400k litres of water as 'Day Zero' moves forward 

"On the one hand we have the needs of the charities we support and the stimulation provided to a Western Cape economy reeling under the effects of the drought. On the other, we are well aware of the very real concerns of the residents of the City of Cape Town, who make up the majority of our riders, the volunteers who help us stage the event, and the incredible supporters who make the event the special day that it is. 

"We have been urgently seeking a way forward that will help us continue to support our beneficiaries, while acknowledging and offsetting the event’s water footprint. 

"The water shortage is beyond a crisis. It is a disaster and should be declared such." 

To date the water crisis has had a considerable impact on the economy, not just of Cape Town, but the economy of the entire Western Cape and South Africa as a whole. 

SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: Mother City sets up disaster operations HQ 

Off the gird: Race to draw zero litres of drinking water 

The 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour event day will draw zero litres of drinking water from the municipal supply.

Bellairs says eliminating the event’s reliance on municipal drinking water will be achieved through a variety of strategies.

"These include bringing water in from upcountry for drinking and ice on the route, and using locally-produced desalinated water for all cleansing purposes. Water stations along the route will be reduced to the 14 essential from a medical point of view.

Direct communication to rider database about dire situation

While the majority of Cape Town Cycle Tour participants are residents of Cape Town and surrounds, the tour anticipates some 15 000 riders come from outside the borders of the Western Cape, including international entrants.

Not only will the severity of the situation be communicated to all those participating but those travelling by road will be encouraged to bring sufficient drinking water with them for their own daily consumption. 

Added to this, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust will aim to offset offset the water footprint of the estimated 15 000 participants from beyond the Western Cape.     

Visitor usage to be offset

Bellairs says the tour is in the process of rolling out a comprehensive communications plan aimed at both locals and targeting out-of-town participants, making the seriousness of the situation in Cape Town clear and providing information on how we expect riders to behave.

"We will also ensure our hospitality partners take this even further. It is vitally important that all visiting participants understand the dire situation that exists in the Cape. 

Expected visitor usage for the event is estimated at 1.5-million to 1.750-million litres of water over the duration of their stay. The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust says it will use some of the money meant to have gone to charitable distribution to purchase an amount of 2-million litres of spring water sourced from only licensed and fully tested suppliers, and from an area not experiencing drought.

"This water will be put back into the local water grid. We are working closely with the City of Cape Town around the mechanics of how this water will be introduced back into the municipal reticulation system."

In addition to the steps outlined above, below are some of the initiatives we’re taking to ensure the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2018 event is off the water grid:

- All suppliers related to Cycle Tour will be signing service level agreements specifying their usage and where that water comes from, and requiring a commitment to our Water Policy. No suppliers may utilise water for our event that comes directly off the City Grid.
- Cycle tour has 360 toilets that are utilised throughout the event. Sanitech is our service provider and all water utilised by them will be greywater, obtained from various treatment plants.
- Waterless soap solutions are being provided as opposed to wash basins for handwashing.
- We will be monitoring and educating spectators on route to ensure there is no spraying down of cyclists or portable pools in use on event day.
- All water ballast previously utilised for weighting down structures has been changed to cement blocks. 
- All refreshment station water will be privately supplied and will not come from the City water grid.  We are also providing clearly marked grey water systems whereby excess water will be put into grey water bins provided and taken to a water treatment plant post Cycle Tour. 

 The Cape Town Cycle Tour will be staged on 11 March 2018, with a new Start at the Grand Parade Precinct. For more info visit the Cape Town Cycle Tour Facebook page or for any event queries, or assistance with entries, please contact the Cycle Tour Events Office during office hours on 087 820 7223 or visit 

What to read next on Traveller24:

PICS: Cape Water Crisis collection points as Level 6b water restrictions announced

Cape Water Crisis: Cycle Tour to save 400k litres of water as 'Day Zero' moves forward

#CapeWaterCrisis: 'Privileged Capetonian's guide' to the water crisis will have you laughing then crying

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