CAPE TOWN, The City of Cape Town activates its Disaster Operations Centre (DOC) Monday to execute the City’s Water Disaster Plan which will take effect in the event of Day Zero, the day when taps run dry in South Africa’s second largest netropolis.

The City Council’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, Richard Bosman, will be permanently seconded to the DOC as its Incident Commander.

While the City is focusing all its efforts on beating back Day Zero, we do need to be prepared for a scenario where we take control of the City’s water supply in order to extend it into the winter months. We will shut off supply to taps when our dams reach a collective level of 13.5 per cent, the City said in a statement Sunday.

In order to avoid this, the City of Cape Town must reduce current consumption to 450 million litres of total consumption a day. This equates to 50 litres per person per day. Many Capetonians have reduced their consumption substantially over the past few months, and the City has called on all residents to join the City’s water-savings drive.

Since March last year, the City’s Water and Sanitation Department has introduced various initiatives to lower water demand, including advanced pressure reduction to lower the rate at which water flows, and the installation of water meters to reduce consumption. We will continue with these initiatives over the next few weeks to extend our water supply for as long as possible, the City said.

The City said once dam levels reach 13.5 per cent, it would begin to shut down its reticulation system, except to key commercial areas and institutions such as hospitals. Once this happens, residents will be able to access water from collection points across the city with each resident to be allocated 25 litres of water a day.

There will be separate sections for pedestrian and vehicle access, as well as access for those collecting on behalf of vulnerable groups.

It will be the task of the DOC to manage the water collection points. A great deal of preparation is being done to ensure that this happens as efficiently as possible. The City’s Disaster Risk Management Department has been consulting with the international community since early last year on how best to distribute water in a time of crisis.

Water tankers will be used to deliver water to vulnerable groups such as old age homes and care facilities.

We are also engaging retailers and the bottled water association to ramp up their distribution networks to increase bottled water supply, so that those who do not want to use the water collection points can purchase water, the City said.