Plans for Day Zero

The water purification plant installed at Helderberg Village to supply residents with potable water, should Day Zero arrive.

Although Day Zero continues to be pushed back into what many hope will be our winter rainy season, questions are being asked about what the elderly and the infirm will do, should that day arrive.

Trustee chairman at Somerset Oaks retirement village, Tony Shelver, in Somerset West crystalised the debate when he spoke to Bolander on Friday. “We have 185 residents, the majority over 70, who will not be able to queue for their daily 25 litres, let alone get it home,” he said, adding that an uninterupted supply of potable water is required for the kitchen and dining room to prepare meals daily for those who cannot cook for themselves.

“I’ll be meeting with our ward councillor, Stuart Pringle, on Thursday February 22 to find out what the City of Cape Town plans to do to assist us.”

The many senior citizen institutions in the Helderberg all face simialr problems, and those that can, are making plans to keep their residents supplied with water.

Helderberg Village implemented an emergency water strategy in early 2017, according to CEO Vagn Nielsen. A purification plant was built last year to purify water from an on-site borehole to potable water standards, which is stored in a series of tanks. “A delivery system to transport the purified water from the storage tanks to each of the 800 homes in the village has been put into place, tested and tweaked in the eventuality of Day Zero arriving,” he said.

“If Day Zero arrives, each house will be supplied with two plastic containers (already purchased), with taps, each holding 25 litres of water, one with purified water for drinking and cooking and the other with non-potable dam water for ablution purposes.

“The containers will be delivered to villagers’ homes and re-filled, daily.”

Heritage Manor Retirement Village manager, Anthea Bosch, said that despite the City of Cape Town stating that old age homes would continue to be supplied with water, holding company Faircape Retirement Holdings has a contingency plan.

“We will be making use of existing and new borehole groundwater on our premises, stored in tanks, both filtered and unfiltered, from where it will be distributed to our residents for washing and toilet flushing. Drinking water will still need to be bought by our residents.”

Bridgewater Manor, also a Faircape property, has similar plans in place, and although its groundwater is potable, a purifiaction plant will be installed. Water will be reticulated to tanks around the village, and where residents cannot collect for themselves, village staff will assist them.

Similarly, Mr Shelver at Somerset Oaks said that two boreholes on the property were under evaluation as a possible source of water.

Helderberg Society for the Aged acting CEO, Wayne Devy, told Bolander on Monday, that despite posing detailed questions to the City about Day Zero, “the response received in early January 2018 was that the City was not in a position to answer the questions, however announcements will be made in due course.”

He added that announcements on the City’s web page dealing with plans for the elderly and disabled, “stipulate that water bottles will be made available and distributed to elderly homes, and staff can assist the elderly at the collection points. (There) is no indication of where the water points will be at this stage.

“Taking into account the minimal information the society has at its disposal, we are of the view point that water will be available for bulk collection for elderly residents. We will therefore make the necessary arrangements to collect and distribute bulk water or the 25l per resident if bulk water is not available for residents, on a daily basis. Elderly residents however do not utilise more that 15l of water per day when under restriction. We have calculated the minimal amount of drinking water necessary per person and will collect and distribute this as a priority. We have further installed additional water tanks at all our facilities to utilise for toilets, washing and other,” Mr Devy said.

“We will however request assistance from the public to assist us in any way or form to collect and distribute water and/or transport and assist independent residents to the water points should the collection of bulk water not be available.”

In response to questions from Bolander about the City’s plans to deploy a cohort of volunteers, mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith, said: “On Saturday (February 10) last week we had a mass information session with neighbourhood watches regarding the water crisis where we presented our call to action. We have been gathering contact details from volunteers to add to our database. There will be volunteers at the water distribution points who will be available to assist those elderly to queue for water should Day Zero arrive.”

At least one civil society organisation has decided to lend a hand if day Zero arrives. Bolander spoke to Volunteer Wildfire Services (VWS) Jonkershoek base manager, Wayne van den Heuvel, on Sunday.

“Instead of our annual Awarenesss Day fundraising intiative which would have been on or close to Day Zero, VWS member’s will instead volunteer their services to assist people who are unable to queue and collect water for themselves,” he said.

“We will also be available to assist at water collection points if we are needed.”