People queue for water at a supermarket in Ottery. Picture: City of Cape Town
People queue for water at a supermarket in Ottery. Picture: City of Cape Town

Day Zero? I'm already struggling

By Yazeed Kamaldien Time of article published Feb 3, 2018

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Cape Town - Day Zero may have been predicted to land mid-April, but for me it arrived earlier this week when water barely trickled from my taps.

It began one evening when I was about to take a shower. I decided to stall ablutions until the next day, but the water still did not flow.

I tweeted the City of Cape Town, wanting to know whether restrictions were in place. They tweeted water rationing had begun.

“Water rationing is the start of our critical water shortages disaster plan. It will last as long as is necessary to ensure we all have access to basic water supply and until dam levels increase sufficiently or alternative water supply measures become available,” reads the city’s website.

So the water pressure had been decreased and much less water was coming out of my tap. As I’m not on the ground floor, the water doesn’t reach my apartment due to the decreased pressure.

The next alternative was a no-brainer: take a shower at the gym. But then I got a text message from Virgin Active saying their water supply was “limited” too, a problem that has since been resolved.

Being without a reliable water supply was tough. My shower and kitchen taps had supplied grey water for plants and flushing the toilet, now there was nothing else. I hadn’t until then needed to queue at Newlands or Muizenberg springs for water.

I realised I was unprepared for Day Zero. In a state of panic, I rushed to retailers to get a 25 litre bucket for the day we need to stand in line at those dreaded collection points. I also got a large drum to harvest water as tanks are sold out.

Sprayers were sold out and nobody had 5-litre water bottles for sale either.

One supermarket had empty boxes on the top shelf with a sign that read “empty boxes”. Was this meant to be some kind of joke?

And by now my dishes were piling up. I’m not too keen on using paper plates as this may create another problem. If we begin to create more waste this will have an adverse impact later. And what will happen with all the empty plastic bottles, considering that consumers are buying so many bottles of water?

I asked various people on the local government’s Day Zero team. Premier Helen Zille said: “We should recycle all plastic bottles in the normal recycling containers and these bottles are no exception,” she offered.

But let’s be honest; where are these “normal recycling containers”? Most residents don’t have any form of recycling depository in their neighbourhood. The plastic is going to be dumped in the rubbish and end up on some local government dump.

Already, before Day Zero has officially been declared, the effect is being felt. And man, it’s going to be a struggle.

Weekend Argus

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