Friday, 26 January 2018

Cape Town's drought- will "Day Zero" affect Comminution '18?

Cape Town residents may lose piped water to their homes within two months if they do not act to counter the effects of the worst drought to hit South Africa’s second city in almost a century. Local authorities have warned its 4 million inhabitants that if they do not reduce consumption by “Day Zero” – currently 12 April – they will have to queue at 200 standpipes for daily rations of 25 litres.
How will this affect Comminution '18, which begins a few days after Day Zero at the Vineyard Hotel? I put this question to our agent in Cape Town, Rene Simpson, who deals with many hotels in the city, and she says "the Vineyard Hotel is one of the most “green” hotels in South Africa and has had contingencies in place for a while, so you don’t need to worry about anything with this hotel (see Vineyard website).  The hotel had planned to go off the water grid by February and they are still on track to do this, so no delegates will be impacted in any way and they will have water.  They have enough borehole water to cover their daily needs and more and they have desalination plants etc. to convert to drinking water and this is almost complete.
The City of Cape Town and the mayor have advised that essential services (hospitals etc.) as well as businesses and events and conferences will not be affected at all.  They know that tourism is huge for the city and aren’t going to have anything happen there.  The city will have aquifers up and running next month which will add 1 million extra litres a day into the city’s water system. Then they are also busy with 4 desalination plants which are scheduled to begin operating in February and will supply a further 150 million litres of water into the supply, with another 47 million by July when they expect to be running at full capacity.  Your delegates shouldn’t see huge differences, except that they aren’t allowed to bath, as bath plugs have been removed (so they need to shower).  Other than that they won’t be affected at all".
Visitors are alerted to the need for conservation when they land at the airport. The city and hotels are encouraging sustainable practices, and some accommodation establishments have closed their pools, saunas and steam rooms, and removed bath plugs, to limit non-essential water use, so if you are not staying at a local B&B it would be wise to check contingency plans with your chosen accommodation. Otherwise, everything is on course for another great conference in Cape Town.


  1. Being cognizant of the declining Cape Town rainfall pattern in recent years, we started investing significantly some time ago in an effort to ensure a secure water supply. We are confident that we have achieved this and are grateful to our guests and our teams for fully supporting and embracing our continuing efforts to save water.

    Cape Town and much of the Western Cape has experienced a severe drought during the past three years, which has led to a critical water shortage. This is a matter of deep concern to Capetonians and visitors to our beautiful city. For over a year, the Petousis Hotels Group water-crisis committee has been working tirelessly in its commitment to reducing water usage at our hotels and our reliance on potable municipal water.

    As such, we are able to reassure our guests that The Vineyard is well prepared for the eventuality that the municipal water supply may be cut off entirely, and we are confident that, as a result of our extensive efforts and preparation, we will continue to operate and our guests’ comfort will not be unnecessarily compromised.

    The City of Cape Town has said that even if water is turned off within the city, the central city will be unaffected. This means that guests at the Townhouse will continue to receive municipal water. Similarly, the Stellenbosch municipality has announced that its supply will be disconnected from that of Cape Town and supplemented by alternative sources, which will provide Oude Werf with water security.

    We remain committed to implementing initiatives to ensure our guests’ experience at our hotels remains positive now and into the future.

  2. /cont
    What we’ve done to date:

    Among the many initiatives already implemented by the Petousis Hotel Group over the past year are the following:
    • Removing all bath plugs to encourage guests to shower and supplying shower timers to help guests keep their showers to 2 minutes.
    • Providing buckets to collect shower water, which we recycle.
    • Linen is changed every 4th day and towels only when left in the bath.
    • Our swimming pools are covered during the lunch period to help limit evaporation.
    • We have installed extra water meters, aerated taps, aerated showerheads, movement activated taps in public areas, a water-wise air-conditioning chiller unit, and other water-saving fittings.
    • To reduce the laundry load, we have provided paper towels instead of hand towels in public lavatories; in our dining areas you will find recyclable paper napkins instead of linen and we have removed all tablecloths.
    • Germstar hand sanitisers were installed and we encourage guests and staff to sanitize rather than use water to wash their hands.
    • We use all unfinished bottled water for floor washing, and recycle our laundry water, using the last rinse water of one load for the first wash of the next.
    • We have emptied all water features except for the two used by the birds, frogs, tortoises and other wildlife on the property. These two contain borehole water. Our mulching and composting programmes prevent soil evaporation in our gardens.
    • We have exchanged all fresh flower arrangements for water-wise, long-living indigenous flowers.
    • We have been running a guest-education programme since February 2017. This includes information on booking, in pre-arrival communications, at check-in, in rooms and throughout the hotels and public bathrooms. We have also engaged in rigorous staff training.
    • Our Water Crisis Committee meets weekly and we have appointed an external project manager to ensure every possible initiative is implemented.

  3. /cont
    What we’re doing now:
    As of 1 February, we will be operating at and adhering to Level 6B restrictions, which requires a maximum consumption of 50-litres municipal water usage per person per day. In addition to all the initiatives implemented to date:
    • Every room will have 750ml of bottled water per person as well as a 5-litre bottle of emergency drinking water available in case supplies are interrupted.
    • We are encouraging our guests to make use of our smaller towels instead of larger bathsheets wherever possible.
    • Installation of greywater infrastructure is far advanced and will be complete by the end of February 2018 at both The Vineyard and Oude Werf Hotels. A combination of greywater and borehole water will flush toilets throughout the property, providing us with a further 8% water saving.
    • We have commissioned a geohyrdrologist to investigate the filtration and treatment of our groundwater for potable use. We expect this to be available by the end of February 2018.
    • 70% of our garden is already water wise and our horticulturist is in the process of replacing non-water-wise plants with alternatives.
    • We are acutely aware of other environmental impacts this water crisis may have. We have a well-established recycling ethos and will continue to seek every opportunity in our operations during this water crisis period to mitigate any additional pressure on landfill.

    What is next in preparing for Day Zero?
    • The Vineyard has access to groundwater and will continue to operate independent of municipal services.
    • The Townhouse Hotel is based within Cape Town’s central city and as such, its water supply will be unaffected as per the City of Cape Town’s recent announcement.
    • Stellenbosch is supplementing their municipal supply from non-Cape Town water sources which will help ensure continued operations at Oude Werf Hotel.
    • Every room has an emergency supply of drinking water, and we guarantee that our guests will always have fresh, safe drinking water.
    • A separate water system for fire is in place and fully serviced. General health, safety and security measures are all in place and addressed as the highest priority.

    The Petousis Hotels Water Committee continues to investigate other ways we can help our guests save water, while ensuring their comfort and we will keep you updated regularly on our water saving and other sustainability efforts.

    “Based on our current calculations, our water usage has been reduced by 42% year on year,” says George Petousis. “By the end of March 2018 when our new grey-water system comes on line, our water usage will be below the Council’s 45% reduction requirement.

    Finally, we encourage our guests to treat this scarce resource with the utmost respect. For more tips on how to help save water like a local, please see the following links:

    Should you have any further queries or wish to discuss these drought mitigation efforts further, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    George Petousis, Petousis Hotels CEO

  4. Bary,
    It is a warning signal to all countries and this kind of detail appearing on a Mineral Engineering Blog definitely serves a purpose on "how to look at any Natural Resource"(including mineral resource), A God given gift has to be looked and used with "sustainability" in mind.
    Hope and pray that this great country comes out of this crisis.

  5. Day Zero has been pushed out to 11 May now, so a few weeks after your conference – ie your delegates won’t be affected in any way now during the conference ( not that they would have been but this is better knowing that they won’t have to even see what Day Zero looks like). Hopefully if things continue we won’t have a Day Zero at all, which is what they are saying if we continue to save water like we are doing, as the later we can push it out, the closer we get to the date when all aquifers and desalination plants are working properly.
    Rene Simpson, Simpson Tours, Cape Town


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