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Everything you need to know about Cape Town’s Day Zero plans

As Cape Town’s water crisis deepens, and Day Zero draws nearer, a lot of questionable information is currently circulating on the internet.

But the City of Cape Town is finally getting its act together — at least in terms of providing regular updates on the progress of its disaster plan, what Day Zero will mean for all Capetonians, and how its water collection points will work.

Although it’s still calling on users to reduce consumption, in addition to new social media campaigns including #DefeatDayZero, there’s no doubt that Mayor Patricia de Lille’s words of “We have reached the point of no return” still resonates.

And we’re probably all freaking out. A little.

To ease those worries, here’s everything we know so far, based on communications from the City of Cape Town and other official sources (as of 29 January 2018).

The City of Cape Town now has a “Disaster Operations Centre”. What is it?

It’s a fancy name for the City of Cape Town’s team that will be executing the “City’s Water Disaster Plan, which will take effect in the event of Day Zero”.

Richard Bosman, the City’s executive director of safety and security, will head up the DOC.

The DOC will be operational as of Monday 29 January 2018.

In the event of Day Zero, who will continue to receive water?

“Strategic commercial areas, high-density areas with significant risk of increased burden of disease, and critical services, such as hospitals, will continue to receive drinking water through normal channels,” the City announced in its Day Zero Disaster Plan FAQ [pdf].

The City has not yet confirmed which areas will be exempt from the Day Zero switch off.

“Densely populated informal settlements” will also not have their water switched off.

What’s the latest regarding the “water collection points”?

The DOC will manage the points, including security, access and overall efficiency. This requires the City to “troubleshoot” all 200 proposed points across the city.

According to the City of Cape Town, the number of water collection points have not been finalised, but around 200 should be available across the city. 149 sites have been confirmed to date.

The sites will include areas for pedestrians and vehicle collections.

Each point will have between 50 and 200 taps, while some collection points may allow for “drive through water collection”.

The City assumes that each person will spend five minutes at each point.

Operating times have also not been finalised as yet, but these will be adjusted accordingly for each collection point.

You will need to provide your own containers.

What about those who cannot make it to these collection points daily?

Water tankers will be used to deliver water to vulnerable groups such as old age homes and care facilities,” the City announced in a release.

The City is also reportedly in talks with bottled water suppliers to ramp up production for those who’d rather purchase water.

For those who cannot collect water themselves, others can collect on your behalf.

“It is important that persons are permitted to collect water for others as not all members of society will be able to collect water for themselves, for example young children, the elderly and disabled,” the City explained.

Residents can also go to “any [water collection] point of their choice”.

Do you need to provide identification information to access water at these water points?


We want to stress that no one will be turned away from the Water Collection Points. All persons living in Cape Town will be entitled to collect water at these points. No one will be required to provide any identification to collect their daily allocation of water,” the City clarified.

Users of the water collection site will however be prevented from “collecting far above their daily water allocation”.

Officials will be onsite to monitor potential abuse, and residents are also encouraged to report any abuse they witness.”

The City may however allow one user to collect up to 100-litres for four people, making it easier for those with families to collect water.

What about security?

South African Police Services, the South African National Defence Force and Metro police will be deployed at various points across the city.

Sites will also be ranked by security risk, with officials distributed both inside and outside collection points accordingly.

What about potential health risks and the sewerage system?

“Outbreak response teams” have been established, who will monitor trends and various cases of diseases.

The City has also asked citizens that have collected grey water, rain water and borehole water to prioritise it for flushing to ” help keep the sewage system functioning”.

It also recommended that Capetonians use sea water, spring water and water from rivers and wetlands to flush.

When is Day Zero?

As of 22 January 2018, Day Zero is currently penned for 12 April 2018.

How much water is left in Cape Town’s dams?

Memeburn publishes a weekly dam report, looking at the City of Cape Town’s figures.

As of 29 January 2018, the total dam storage is 26.3% — around 12.8% remains until Day Zero.

Read the full report here.

How can we avoid Day Zero?

Adhering to Level 6B water restrictions, saving as much water as possible, is what citizens can do to ensure Day Zero remains a worst case scenario.

At the time of writing, the Drakenstein and Cape Agulhas municipalities are under Level 6 water restrictions.

Saldanha, Stellenbosch and the Swartland municipalities are covered by Level 5 restrictions.

How can I contact the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Operations Centre?

Great question.

This email address can be used to report overzealous water users, and query pressure reduction measures.

This email can be used for those looking for water deliveries. While this particular address can be used by good Samaritans able to “assist with donations of containers of water”.

What other resources should I bookmark?

Memeburn’s historical coverage of the Cape Town water crisis can be accessed here.

However, we recommend that you pocket these particular articles

Note: This article will be updated regularly to reflect changes or updates made by the City of Cape Town.

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