7 things you need to know about #DayZero

Brandon Herringer testing one of the taps that will assist Maitland residents when Day Zero arrives and the taps are turned off. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency/ANA

Brandon Herringer testing one of the taps that will assist Maitland residents when Day Zero arrives and the taps are turned off. Picture: Cindy Waxa/African News Agency/ANA

Published Jan 19, 2018


Cape Town - With just over 90 days to Day Zero, Cape Town residents have tons of questions. What is Day Zero? What can we do about it? How did we get here?

Day Zero is expected to be on the 21 April 2018 and here are some answers to your pressing questions to help you prepare:

1. What is Day Zero?

Day Zero does not mean that there is no water in our dams. It does mean, however, that the dams are at a crucial low. This crucial low means that dam storage will be at 13.5%. This is when the City will turn off most taps, leaving only vital services with access to water.

"Some key areas will be prioritised to stay connected, but these areas will be extremely limited. The areas which will stay connected will be the majority of densely populated informal settlements," the City of Cape Town said in a statement.

"Most schools will have to close if they don’t have their own safe supply from boreholes or rainwater tanks. Many businesses will not be able to operate unless they can provide temporary (off-mains) toilets and drinking water," said WWF.

2. What happens on Day Zero?

On Day Zero, Cape Town residents will have to collect water at 200 collection sites or points of distribution in Cape Town. The City estimates that about 20 000 people will be able to collect water per site per day. The collection points have not yet been announced.

"The quantity will be based on the minimum requirements for people to maintain health and hygiene. At the moment, the plan is that we will distribute 25 litres per person per day which is in line with the World Health Organisation recommendation," said the City.

3. But if on Day Zero, we collect 25 litres for the day, there'll be less - or even no - greywater to flush?

Because we are required to use very little water in our households, there might not be enough to flush.

"It’s very likely you’ll have to think about alternate ‘dry’ sanitation systems at home. Some people might start trying to build temporary pit latrines and people in apartments are going to need smaller, mobile, dry systems," said WWF.

Graphic: Lance Witten/Cape Argus

4. How long is Day Zero expected to last?

Despite it being called 'Day' Zero, the full-scale Emergency Stage 3 is set to go on for months.

"We should be prepared to live with very little water for at least three months and possibly up to six months after Day Zero, but it all depends on when rain falls in the water source areas that feed the dams," said WWF in a statement.

However, the City of Cape Town is working on alternative water sources.

5. Okay, so what are the City's efforts? And what are the alternative water sources?

Alternative water sources are groundwater, desalination and groundwater. According to the City of Cape Town's dashboard, most of the sources are 50% complete but some are running behind schedule. 

5. What if someone wants to take my water at the collection points?

In a bid to ensure the safety of all residents at the points of distribution, law enforcement, police and intergovernmental resources will be deployed at the sites.

7. What does Level 6B water restrictions mean?

Because approximately 60% of Capetonians have used more than 87 litres per day, Level 6B water restrictions will be introduced on 1 February.

The new daily collective consumption target is now 450 million litres per day - which amounts to 50 litres per person. Level 6B restrictions will limit irrigation using boreholes and well points.


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