Thanks to the water saving efforts of many Cape Town residents, I can confirm that we have begun to push back Day Zero, which is now 16 April 2018.
This is crucial progress, and I offer my thanks and congratulations to all residents who have joined in this campaign to Defeat Day Zero with such commitment. Their efforts have shown fruit. We have started to push back Day Zero, and we can defeat it altogether if we keep going.
Pushing back Day Zero by 4 days may not seem like a lot. But actually it is a significant victory. It shows that residents are coming together and cutting water consumption.
I said that if we worked together we could demonstrate what is best about South Africans, our incredible resilience, and we could Defeat Day Zero. This week, I could not be more proud of our city!
Last week I committed to be completely open with the public about where we stood and what needed to be done. I committed to improve the communication and tell it like it is, because previously residents were not always getting accurate information. This is not what people expect from any DA government, and it cannot happen again. I committed to fixing it, and we are fixing it.
Today and at future briefings we will answer as many questions as you have. When we don’t have information at hand, we will get it to you.
We have managed to push back Day Zero by cutting consumption to an average of 580 million litres a day for the past week, and to 540 million litres a day for the past few days.
This is great progress, but to truly Defeat Day Zero, we need to aim to cut consumption to 450 million litres a day.
While I celebrate the progress this week, I call on all residents to support the campaign to Defeat Day Zero by cutting their consumption to below 50 litres per person per day.
This is definitely possible with a bit of effort, and I am already getting my family down to 40 litres per person per day.
I’ve been heartened by the dozens of innovative water saving tips that residents have been sending to us and posting on social media. This demonstrates the incredible resilience and fighting spirit that makes South Africans so wonderful, and gives me the absolute confidence that if we keep going like this, we can Defeat Day Zero.
I’m also grateful for the wonderful messages and practical support from South Africans across the country.
New Water Projects:
I am also pleased to be able to announce today that the City has secured an additional 67 million litres a day for a period of approximately 60 days, commencing in early February.
I commend the City’s efforts to bring this extra 67 million litres on line by early February, as part of the 120 million litre augmentation which we announced last week. Last week we expected this additional capacity to only come online by May, but now more than half will be available from early February. This speeding-up of water augmentation will help us greatly to Defeat Day Zero.
This water will be transferred from the Palmiet-Kogelberg dam, which has had excellent rainfall and is full. This has been a collaborative effort from the farming community of the Elgin-Grabouw valley and the City of Cape Town and we are extremely grateful for their efforts. This too shows how South Africans are coming together to Defeat Day Zero.
Drilling work on the Cape Flats Aquifer is being accelerated aggressively, and we will provide more detail on timelines and yields in the coming weeks.
Water Pressure Management:
Over the coming weeks the City will be reducing pressure across the city.
This means that residents will start to experience a noticeable drop in pressure for most of the day, and those in high-lying areas and in apartment blocks may have water service interruption for several hours at a time.
People should not be alarmed or panic when this happens, and should plan accordingly. This is the planned pressure reduction programme being implemented by the City to reduce consumption, and is part of the plan to ensure that everyone continues to have access to water and to Defeat Day Zero.
Many residents have already begun to panic about the possibility of Day Zero, and have actually begun to hoard municipal water. Panic and hysteria is not helpful to the effort to Defeat Day Zero. It actually increases consumption and so is counter-productive. If we are clear about what we need to do, and committed to doing it, then we absolutely can Defeat Day Zero altogether. We need all residents, community leaders, religious leaders and the media to help us in this cause and not contribute to any sense of panic.
Day Zero Plans:
If we do not reduce consumption enough, it is still possible that Day Zero could happen. We must all work with absolute commitment, and mobilise every possible resource, to prevent it from happening. But if it does, we must be ready.
It was clear to me that the Day Zero plans were not robust enough and had been poorly communicated. Now our colleagues in the City and Provincial governments are working flat out to ramp up the Day Zero planning and communicate this in good time. The City provided a helpful and detailed briefing on this on Sunday.
We thank the Muslim community of Cape Town for the huge prayer service held for the City over the weekend. We thank all other religious groups who have sent us their good wishes and who are praying for the City.
We thank the exceptional team of professionals in the City of Cape Town who are truly world class, and who are working tirelessly under extreme pressure. We should not sell ourselves short by thinking that only foreign experts can solve this. We have among the best experts in the world right here, and they deserve our full support.
We have shown this week that we can do it. We’ve brought down consumption, and we’ve pushed back Day Zero.
If we continue to cut consumption more, we can Defeat Day Zero altogether.