Day Zero is a result of Cape Town dams being at a crucial low.
This means that dam storage will be at 13.5%. The City will turn off most taps, leaving only vital services with access to water.
On Day Zero, Cape Town residents will have to collect water at 200 collection sites or points of distribution in Cape Town. The City estimates that about 20 000 people will be able to collect water per site per day. The collection points have not yet been announced.
“Some key areas will be prioritised to stay connected, but these areas will be extremely limited. The areas which will stay connected will be the majority of densely populated informal settlements,” the City of Cape Town said in a statement.
“Most schools will have to close if they don’t have their own safe supply from boreholes or rainwater tanks. Many businesses will not be able to operate unless they can provide temporary (off-mains) toilets and drinking water,” said WWF.
According to a Cape Argus article published in 1990, the city of Cape Town was warned by the Water Research Commission (WRC) about the possibility of a drought. Which was predicted to hit the city in 17 years time from the date the article was published.
28 years later, Cape Town is faced with a water crisis that the city could have avoided if they could started planning from 2012 when the WRC report was issued for the second time. The city does not have any complete plan in hand for Day Zero.
We spoke to JP Smith, Mayoral Committee member for safety, security and social services on the City’s preparations for Day Zero. According to Smith, the City’s plan regarding Day Zero is incomplete.
Cape Town authorities should have begun implementing water augmentation schemes in 2012 or earlier, the Water Research Commission (WRC) said.
“If this had been done, there would be no talk of Day Zero”, says WRC chief executive Dhesigen Naidoo. Similar warnings were repeated in the commission’s report in 2012.
“The 17 years was not realised because many things happened on the back of that. Not immediately, but when Kader Asmal became minister of Water in 1994, there was a range of new discussions that were happening around the development of new water laws,” Naidoo said.
Naidoo also added that “If the City honestly reflects on its own planning regimen, it too would come to the conclusion that they should have reacted differently as early as 2012, or perhaps even before that.”
There are several causes of the Cape Town water crisis. The two prominent causes being that the population rate is growing inversely proportional to the dam water levels. In the recent report by Statistics South Africa, Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa after Johannesburg.
The Mother City’s population grew 2.6% from 2001 to 2011, reaching a metro population of 3.75 million people. The city grows with a number of approximately 1.5 million people every year.
Water is one of the basic human needs, its demand increased due to the growth in population, while the dams were receiving little or no supply of water due to climate change.
“Climate change is a reality,” said, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in an interview with CNN anchor, Christiane Amanpour.
Before the Cape Town water crisis escalated to Day Zero, Western Cape’s African National Congress (ANC) claimed that Democratic Alliance (DA) leaders were responsible for a “failure to timeously react to resolve the present water shortages”.
The National Water and Sanitation Department’s spokesperson, Sputnik Ratau recently said, “Funding should come from local revenue. It is a municipal issue. In any way that we might be able to support, then that’s where we come in,” says Ratau. “The department will not put in a single cent to assist Cape Town’s water crisis.”
In response to the Western Cape’s ANC governments claim, the DA’s newly elected leader in the Western Cape region, Bonginkosi Madikizela responded that Premier Helen Zille had been aware of an impending water shortage since 2015 and on various occasions requested assistance from the national Department of Water and Sanitation. These calls fell on deaf ears.
Madikizela further added that “In fact, the ANC national government’s Western Cape regional head for water and sanitation Mr Rashid Khan was still in complete denial of the disaster in February 2017, claiming that ‘it was still too early to declare Cape Town an emergency disaster area,’ Madikizela said.
The national government is finally taking action to help the city of Cape Town to combat water crisis. “We’re facing a real, total disaster in Cape Town which is going to affect more than four million people,” Maphosa said on CNN.
“And I’m going back home and I’m going to corral as many people as possible to put our heads together and see exactly what we should be doing, not only in the immediate term but also in the long term. But in the immediate term, we’ve got to make sure that we bring water to the people of Cape Town without fail.”
The private and public sector of Cape Town has been working together to ensure that the city taps don’t run dry. The Camps Bay, Clifton Ratepayers Association Byron Herbert said people in the area were spending lots of money and going above and beyond to save water, and anyone who thought otherwise was “ignorant and buying into the city’s propaganda”.
Mmusi Maimane announced on Tuesday that Day Zero is pushed back to 16 April. Upon congratulating the residents and the private sector, Maimane said that this was a great sign that the residents and the private sector are working together to save water. “Pushing back Day Zero by four days may not seem like a lot,” he added. “But actually it is a significant victory. It shows that residents are coming together and cutting water consumption.”
OPINION: SA Millennials react to Day Zero
We took to the streets to ask Cape Town millennials about their view on the water crisis and Day Zero. I was shocked to find out that most of the interviewees were not fully equipped with knowledge regarding Day Zero and what caused the crisis.
As young people, we are the future of our country and if we are not equipped with knowledge then how do we take this country forward?
Most of the interviewees were perplexed as they couldn’t quite understand how we’d run out of water if we still had an ocean.
To me this was ignorance, simply because we have smartphone devices and access to newspapers, therefore, it is our responsibility as young people to educate ourselves about pressing issues in our country and educate our elders.
Technology allows us to access information readily and if used correctly we can use it as a tool to advocate change and bring about transformation. #FeesMustFall was a clear picture that with social media everything is possible.
I urge all young people to take the opportunity to use our brilliant minds so that we can come up with innovations that can help the Cape Town water crisis. The late Nkosinathi Nkomo a third-year civil engineering student at the University of Cape was unable to register in 2017 due to lack of funds. To raise funds, he decided to apply some of the knowledge he had acquired practically to find a solution to the water crisis in Cape Town.
Nkomo turned his obstacle into an opportunity by developing a Greywater system which could provide homes and businesses while saving water.
What is stopping the youth from innovating?
Let’s not point fingers and start being accountable.
[The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of TYI, or Independent Media.]