#CapeWaterCrisis: Water to 'stay on for commercial centres', exact locations yet to be released

2018-02-05 11:40 - Kavitha Pillay
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Drought in Cape Town. (Photo: AP)

Cape Town - The Joint Association Members Meeting Sessions (JAMMS) hosted a discussion at the CTICC on Friday, 2 February to provide more information and assistance to the tourism industry during the water crisis.

There were close to 600 attendees at the JAMMS session to discuss the impact of the drought on the industry which is a vital contributor to the country’s economy.

ALSO SEE: #CapeWaterCrisis: Tourism businesses must prepare to be water shortage 'guinea pigs' for global responsible tourism

The panel that addressed industry members included Peter Flower - Director of Water and Sanitation in Cape Town, Ian Neilson – Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor, Alan Winde – Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, and Sisa Ntshona - CEO of SA Tourism.

Ntshona says “We are redefining how things are going to be. The world is watching how we are going to set the benchmark - this is not a temporary blip”, adding that adapting to the drought is going to be a more permanent adjustment for the future.

These are some of the key outcomes of the discussion:

Business protection zones and Airbnb

Flower says that with respect to business protection zones and not cutting off the water supply to the CBD, the intention is to try to keep water flowing not only to Cape Town’s CBD, but “all commercial centres in Cape Town supplied with water”.

However, the areas that will continue to have water after ‘Day Zero’ are still unknown and Flower says authorities “will make that information known in due course”.

Meanwhile, Neilson says he does not have information yet regarding Airbnb bookings, and the best way to avoid reaching a point when cancellations are made is to firstly avoid Day Zero.

Water cuts to agricultural sector

According to Flower, climate change has resulted in more severe and frequent droughts.

He says that it cannot be predicted how intense the next rainfall will be and when it will rain and that “Cape Town will get through the drought if restrictions on dam withdrawals are enforced.”

“The city and agriculture must adhere to restrictions imposed on the system,” he says, adding that there will be water cuts to the agricultural sector which the National Water and Sanitation Department currently allows 60% allocation.

ALSO SEE: Travel with a purpose: The fight for clean water in the forgotten corners of SA

Neilson says that if the demand in the agricultural sector drops, then the projected date for ‘Day Zero’ will shift, “but it will not be enough”.

Flower adds that since we have no surety of rainfall in winter 2018, we have to “plan for the next summer now”, and with residential consumption close to 70% of the city’s water, he stresses that Cape Town’s demand must now be managed below 450 million litres per day.

Augmentation programme

Flower says that the city will build as much as possible to augment the water supply but it “will never be enough in itself”.

“Cape Town is actively pursuing opportunities to increase the supply of water including ground water, reuse, desalination, swaps/purchase of water from agriculture and small sources such as springs,” he says, adding that these will take us away from being dependant on rain water.

He adds that if all Capetonians follow the restrictions then “together with the augmentation programme, there’s a very real probability that we can get through this [the dorughth].”

Creative events

According to Winde there are many ways of reducing water consumption in the tourism industry, but more needs to be done.

“We need to be much more innovative and creative went it comes to events,” he says, mentioning the Cape Town Cycle Tour is an example of how events can bring their own water and not use municipal water.

Neilson says a good idea is to have “a water-neutral approach” and says every event from now on should have a water plan”.

What to read next on Traveller24:

#CapeWaterCrisis: Cancellations for Cape Town 'affects tourism across SA'

Mindful Tourism: Water scarcity and hospitality

Travel with a purpose: The fight for clean water in the forgotten corners of SA