Cape Town businesses believe there has been “too much water politicking and too little sound planning” in response to the current water crisis and have started making their own plans for Day Zero, which is expected to occur on April 16.
A Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry survey shows that 79.4% of respondents see the water crisis as a threat to their businesses, compared with the 51.4% surveyed in October last year, with many believing that the authorities have done “too little too late”.
While Day Zero will see more than 6.7% of businesses shut down and 11% sending their staff home, about 69% say they will “carry on” regardless and are preparing to provide for their own water needs as Day Zero draws closer.
The survey revealed that 87% of business have already more than halved their water consumption, said chamber president Janine Myburgh.
Plans to deal with Day Zero include placing chemical toilets in the basement and asking staff to bring their own water to work, as well as stocking up with bottled and tank water and drawing water from springs.
“Some companies have arranged to import water from other areas. Many said they planned to work in shifts so that staff would have time to queue at water points,” she said, adding that the survey showed indications that the business community had more faith in rainwater tanks, boreholes and new technology than in conventional water supplies.
“[When] asked about their plans to augment their water supplies, 55% said they would harvest rainwater, while 33% said they would resort to boreholes and well points,” Myburgh noted.
Further, 17% of the respondents said they were using recycled water from the city and 5% are harvesting water from the air.
Several companies reported that they are planning their own reverse osmosis desalination plants; however, the survey showed that business believed that the only solution now was a major desalination plant, rather than the small ones the city has proposed.
“The survey indicated that major investments were being made in grey water systems. On a smaller scale, others were switching to paper plates and cups to avoid using water for dishwashing. Restaurants said they would no longer use linen tablecloths to save laundry water,” she concluded.