Day Zero trial run success

City of Cape Town staff members participate in a Day Zero trial run of a drive-through point of water distribution at Malta Park in Observatory. Pictured, City paramedics attend to a simulated medical emergency.

The City of Cape Town recently conducted a trial run of a point of water distribution (POD) at Malta Park in Observatory as part of the disaster risk management centre’s (DRMC) ongoing emergency preparedness planning in the event of Day Zero.

The exercise, conducted to test the vehicle drive-through configuration of the planned PODs was a success in terms of the objectives set out, according the Mayco member JP Smith.

In the event that dams reach critical levels, forcing the shutdown of the reticulation network to individual properties, the City will use PODs to meet the water needs of households and businesses.

The technical exercise evaluated and experimented with the different types of drive-through designs, in order to maximise efficiency and safety, and to evaluate the impact of traffic congestion on on-site operations.

A number of City departments participated in the exercise, and use was made of Council vehicles and staff members’ private vehicles to ensure a flow of vehicles through the POD. These were monitored and timed, to gauge how efficiently this process would unfold practically if required.

The POD was set up by the City’s water and sanitation department and consisted of 32 standpipes and 66 taps. 

During the first hour, 65 vehicles passed through the two lanes being used during the test at the POD, with six standpipes each, at a fairly good tempo.

Two hundred and thirty two vehicles passed through these two lanes within three hours, indicating that the concept could function effectively.

Part of the simulation included POD staff having to deal with numerous challenges, such as a vehicle breakdown, two patients collapsing, pictured, and protest action.

A debriefing will follow to look at the lessons learnt and this will allow the DRMC to adapt its strategies and systems for the next drill, including addressing such matters as maintain good health, preventing contamination of the equipment being used by users who may use containers that are not completely sanitary, dealing with congestion and entry and exit points, addressing staff health and safety and verifying our calculations around the volumes of people that are able to use the water collection facilities.