A message from the city: building a sustainable water future

A message from the city: building a sustainable water future

It was announced this week that Day Zero has been pushed out to 9 July, with water consumption across the City hitting a new low of 523 million litres a day. While citizens, businesses and visitors are working together to save even more water, it is time to start moving from crisis mode towards building a sustainable water future. Lance Greyling, CTT board member and the City’s Director for Enterprise & Investment, yesterday shared the City’s plans and actions with businesses and stakeholders. We are sharing Lance’s valued insights with you below and we call on you to use these to plan for business continuity. We are still tirelessly working with the City, Wesgro, FEDHASA, SAACI, SATSA and other industry bodies to lay the foundation for a sustainable and secure water future for Cape Town. Let’s continue giving our visitors a warm Cape Town welcome by assuring them that Cape Town is open for business and encouraging them to be mindful of our current water scarcity. – Enver Duminy, CEO: Cape Town Tourism


I realise that this has been a bit of a rollercoaster year already in terms of the water crisis, and that many businesses and citizens were suddenly beset by enormous anxiety when the Mayor announced a few weeks ago that the prospect of Day Zero was likely in the near future. Fortunately a number of factors have since changed and I am enormously relieved to say that not only is Day Zero being pushed further back, but the trends are seeming to indicate that the dreaded Day Zero can and should ultimately be pushed into the middle of our Winter rainy season. It has just been announced that Day Zero has thankfully moved out to the 9th July and in the coming weeks it is hoped that we will slowly start to move it further out of  the danger zone and into a period where not only will we be able to replenish our dams with Winter rains but a large proportion of our augmented water supply will also start to come on line.

The reason that Day Zero is moving further and further out is essentially due to three major factors. The first is that the National Department of Water and Sanitation has stopped supplying the agricultural sector from the Western Cape Water Supply System as agriculture opted to use up their entire allocation up front. The agriculture sector has been cut by 60 percent and essentially Day Zero has already arrived for them. The second factor is that the farmers from the Groenland Water Users Association generously agreed to transfer a large volume of water to the City of Cape Town which is bolstering our dam levels.

The other major factor is that Capetonians have really started to heed the water saving message and we have seen a continued downward trend in water usage, which is currently sitting at 523 million litres a day. Although it is still off our 450 million litres a day target it does represent a new “low” for us and we certainly hope that this trend of decreasing water usage will continue in the coming weeks. Our Advanced Pressure Management is also helping to drive down demand and it is important that businesses put in place measures to deal with the drop in pressure which will be felt in different areas of the City.

Overall I have been extremely heartened as a Capetonian to see the huge effort that has been put in by citizens and businesses alike to drive down demand and help avert the worst crisis we have been faced with as a City. It is vitally important however that we don’t become complacent in these efforts as we are not comfortably in a water secure future just yet and a sudden spike in demand could see Day Zero loom large once again.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank industry for the innovative ways in which many businesses have responded to the water crisis, and I will be sharing some of these successes and projects through this newsletter. Please inform me of any ground breaking work being done in this field so that we can assist others with best practice.

“If we continue to work as a team to lower our consumption to 450 million litres per day as required, we will become known as one of the most resilient cities in the world. We are fast becoming a leading example of a large city that is fundamentally changing its relationship with water” – Executive Deputy Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson

Together we can push Day Zero back even further and secure our water future.

Day Zero Planning

In the unlikely event of having to implement a Day Zero scenario though, we have developed plans to ensure that the economic nodes of the city will continue to function so as to prevent major job losses. We do not want this water crisis to become a jobs crisis.

It is therefore our intention to as far as possible find innovative ways in which all businesses can be supplied with water, whether through our reticulation system or other means, to ensure that they keep functioning even in a Day Zero scenario. This will clearly be a difficult task and we will require the cooperation of all businesses to ensure that this is possible. In further newsletters I will be providing more insights into our planning for Day Zero and how we wish to ensure that no business is left behind. Having said that though, I would urge all businesses to develop their own business continuity plans and place emphasis on those interventions that will help reduce your current water demand and provide a long term investment into water resilience.

I realise that a number of you have also enquired about what parts of the reticulation system will be left on in a Day Zero scenario and I can report that this modelling work is feverishly taking place. I anticipate that announcements to this effect should happen as early as next week but one should understand that this is a very complex exercise and it is vitally important that it is done in a legally defensible manner. I fully understand that businesses need this information for planning purposes and that is why we are trying to get this work completed as soon as possible.

In conclusion I would like you to view myself, our department and all the other myriad of roleplayers that we have access to as a resource to draw upon when needed. I will endeavour to respond as timeously as possible or to refer you on to anyone in the City administration, provincial government or expert stakeholder network to deal with your specific needs relating to the water crisis.

Full level 6b water restrictions guidelines, including new guidelines for borehole and well-point use.



  • Day Zero Dashboard – indicates date from when we may have to start queueing for water. Updated every Monday.
  • City of Cape Town Water Dashboard showing dam levels and water usage. Updated every Monday
  • City Dam Levels Model – The Dam Levels Model is a macro-enabled spreadsheet which contains simplified dam level data so that you can stay informed about current water levels. Updated weekly.

All tiers of government are actively responding to the drought crisis through restrictions, reducing their own consumption, awareness raising and augmenting water supply, amongst other interventions. For the latest updates please refer below:

Level 6b water restrictions came into effect from 1 February, with the following impact:

  • Residents to use 50 litres per day; across home, work, school or elsewhere.
  • Commercial properties need to reduce usage by 45% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought).

Agricultural users need to reduce usage by 60% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 (pre-drought).

I firmly believe that if we are able to avert the dreaded prospect of Day Zero, this water crisis can in fact make us stronger and more resilient as a city through the relationships and innovative thoughts and actions that are forming across Cape Town. I look forward to working with you to achieve this goal.

Useful links and Information

For convenience we have set up a City Business Enquiry Service that will provide information on the City’s procedures and processes. If you need any assistance please contact business.support@capetown.gov.za


All drought-related information at www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater
Subscribe to Day Zero and drought-related information at www.capetown.gov.za/subscribe


World Wildlife Fund (WWF) #WATERSHEDWEDNESDAY and the series of Wednesday Water Files

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