The business of water

Cape Town business is finding innovative ways to cope with the level 6B water restrictions, which will be implemented from 1 February, where residents are restricted to using 50ℓ of water per person a day.

pastaPasta and boiled veggies are disappearing from Cape Town restaurants as increased water savings measures take hold.
Image credit: Wish bone

Implementation of 6B water restrictions from 1 February 2018 means that each person in the city is limited to 50ℓ of water a day, for at least the next 150 days.

According to the South African Government News Agency, the national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has partnered with the City on a joint blitz on unlawful water activities in Mfuleni, as part of efforts to curtail excessive water use.

The focus of the operation was to address all current water use breaches and adherence to the water restrictions, particularly targeting informal carwashes, says the department.

For example, on 25 January, numerous fines were issued for using municipal drinking water at informal carwashes without special exemption, while on the previous day, the department conducted compliance monitoring on farms in the Malmesbury and Tulbagh areas.

Businesses on the other hand, across Cape Town, are applying policies to reduce their water use.

The annual Sun Met, known as Africa’s richest race day, was held on Saturday 27 January, at Kenilworth Racecourse. Guests’ 60 000-litre water supply came from outside Cape Town, while to conserve the scarce resource, taps at the venue were not used on the day.

The South African wine industry is an important source of foreign exchange earner for the economy.

A report titled 'Macroeconomic Impact of the Wine Industry on the South African Economy' reveals that the total capital asset base of the industry in 2013 was R62-billion, while its impact on the GDP was R36-billion, representing 1.2% of GDP.

In 1996, the use of drip irrigation applied to about 30% of farms, and has risen sharply to 59% in 2012, according to Kevin Cilliers, KwaZulu-Natal regional manager of the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA).

drip irrigationDrip irrigation is a type of micro-irrigation that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.
Image credit: Waterstone Irrigation

Cilliers claims that there is an increase in water awareness in the wine sector and says, “Many wine producers such as Spier, Boschendal, Lourensford and Elgin Orchards have embarked on interventions to manage and eradicate alien vegetation species around their rivers, so as to reduce losses and to remediate the waterways.”

Spier has installed a centralised waste water treatment facility comprising reed beds, achieving 100% recycling of effluent generated for watering of gardens and grounds.

Tourism has also been hard hit with Cape Town Tourism advising agents and tour operators to inform and alert clients of the water restrictions within the city and to encourage them to be mindful of water consumption.

airdropVouchers exchanged for ‘guilt-free Jozi water’ at Cape Town international airport.
Image credit: IOL

Siemens Southern and Eastern Africa initiated a campaign with a difference, Siemens Airdrop.

On Friday 15 December, the company encouraged travellers from Gauteng to participate in a social experiment and exchange 5km of their on-flight baggage allowance for 5ℓ of water.

Using a voucher system, the experiment offers passengers with enough unused (5kg or more) luggage a voucher in Johannesburg and on arrival in Cape Town receive a five-litre bottle of water in exchange. Operating on a first come, first serve basis, there are 1 000 vouchers available.

“Many wine producers such as Spier, Boschendal, Lourensford and Elgin Orchards have embarked on interventions to manage and eradicate alien vegetation species around their rivers, so as to reduce losses and to remediate the waterways.”
Kevin Cilliers - NCPC-SA

The AirDrop collection stand is in the arrivals area, opposite Woolworths. Uncollected water is donated to Gift of the Givers.

In a far more immediate level, Business Live reported that several restaurants in Cape Town are taking other measures.

The Vineyard Hotel in Newlands for example, has removed pasta and boiled vegetables from menus at its restaurants. Executive chief Carl van Rooyen says that different cooking techniques had been implemented to save water. “We don’t boil anymore, we steam.” Deep frying is another method used.

The Stellenbosch restaurant, Pane E Vino Food and Wine Bar, reused most of its water and Akihirah Erasmus, head of the kitchen says, “The water we use to cook our spinach is reused to wash our dishes; we use the water we wash our cutlery with for our garden.” Staff are also encouraged to bring their own drinking water.

The national Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), together with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape department of local government, environment and development planning, had held several meetings to manage and mitigate the effects of the drought on water availability for the province, says Water and Sanitation Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane.

The Restrictions Management Committee and the Joint Operations Centre had been set up to oversee drought management functions and interventions with the joint participation of local, provincial and national government.

A Water Indaba was convened to examine solutions and action necessary to avert a water black-out, bringing together the government, the private and agricultural sectors, as well as academics and water experts.

“As a department we have successfully intervened and saved several provinces that were devastated by the drought over the past three years and will continue to do so in the Western Cape as well,” Mokonyane says.

Over the next few days, she would hold numerous follow-up meetings with the various stakeholders to measure progress of the implementation of current interventions as well as new interventions necessary to avert Day Zero.

Meanwhile, dam levels in the region are extremely low, and it was announced on 23 January that Day Zero had been pushed forward to 12 April 2018.



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