As the Western Cape prepares for the day when the water supply to most taps will be turned off, the severity of the water crisis is finally starting to sink in for many people. For months the City of Cape Town has been urging people to reduce their water consumption, introducing more and more severe water restrictions.
This, however, has not yielded the necessary water savings, with Day Zero now predicted to be Monday April 16.
And should we reach Day Zero, the taps in most areas will be turned off and people will have to collect their water supply from the 200 designated water collection sites around the city, which have yet to be made public.
The City will shut off supply to taps when the dams reach a collective level of 13.5%. It said in order to avoid the taps running dry, it must reduce current consumption to 450 megalitres of total consumption a day. This means people must use 50 litres a person a day-or less.
If Day Zero is reached, however, everyone will be rationed to 25 litres of drinking water a day.
To assess the situation and to find out about residents’ knowledge of and preparedness for Day Zero, Vukani took to the streets of a couple of townships.
In Barcelona, Gugulethu, Nomzivukile Mangaliso said she knew about the water crisis and was worried. However, she said, she believed most people were still in denial about the crisis.“It is a worrying factor to many of us here. I have been doing all the City asked us to do. I no longer wash under a running tap. I know I must use a cup when I brush my teeth and I know I need to save water,” she said. She is concerned about people who are not adhering to the water restrictions and pointed out that children in her area still played in water from the taps. “The sad part is that there are parents who think we should not say a thing about these communal taps. Communal taps are left running, people rinse clothes while the tap is running. That is worrying,” she told Vukani.
Ms Mangaliso believes if people stick to what is required in terms of the water restrictions, Day Zero can be beaten. “I think we can win this battle. All we need is to listen to each other,” she said.
Sipho Ntantiso, from Mfuleni, believes the water crisis can be avoided through prayer. “Long before this modernisation, our churches and people at large used to pray for the rain, why not now?
“This is worrying and it is a big concern. I was one of the naive people, but now the writing is on the wall. I also believe if we are not behaving in a good manner, we will be without water,” he said.
He said he was preparing for the unknown but happy with the information which had been given out to people by various stakeholders including civic organisations.
The Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF) said it viewed the water crisis in a very serious light.
Chairperson Ndithini Tyhido said the forum was preparing to meet with the early childhood development centres to discuss the impact it could have on them.
He said while they had been working with the City on issues relating to water, he was unhappy about a number of water meter-related matters.
“They do not enable people to see how much water they have used and left. That thing should prepare people to be able to control themselves. With electricity at least you see on the meter box how much electricity you used and what is left. These water meters should operate in that manner,” he said.