Western Cape to keep supplying water to schools

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille says the provincial government will continue supplying water to schools in the event of “Day Zero” in the drought-stricken province. 

The Premier said this when she briefed the principals of all schools in the greater Cape Town, Drakenstein, Stellenbosch and West Coast municipalities at the Western Cape Sports School in Kuils River in Cape Town on Wednesday. These are municipalities that draw water from the Western Cape Water Supply system. 

“Whatever happens, we intend to keep schools open,” she said. 

The Premier told school principals that according to the provincial government’s calculations, there is an estimated 10 weeks to go before the province reaches “a possible Day Zero”, which has now moved to 12 April 2018. 

Day Zero is an event when all dams that service affected Western Cape municipalities will have reached 13.5% on average. It is at this point that taps will be closed and residents will be required to get water from designated water collection points. 

The meeting comes after the Premier met with leaders of essential services on the province's emergency plans over Day Zero in Cape Town on Tuesday. 

Day Zero can be avoided through behavioural change 

Addressing school principals, Premier Zille said Day Zero can be avoided if residents can change their behaviour when it comes water use. 

She said that currently, the likelihood of Day Zero happening stands at 60% and that the provincial government is hard at work to ensure that it is avoided. 

“The first thing that schools can do for us is for everyone to understand that this thing is real. If we do avoid Day Zero, it will be because of behaviour change. 

“Our role is to have oversight of that process and to manage disaster,” she said. 

She urged schools to organise themselves to prepare for the eventuality of Day Zero happening. This includes ensuring that there is sufficient daily communication at all schools through e-mails and WhatsApp groups to coordinate water preservation efforts. 

“The role of the principal is to lead on water use reduction in every single way.

“We need to keep our schools open on Day Zero and teaching and learning must continue. 

“You have to have a water management plan in your school. Meet with parents, SGBs and make sure that everyone understands that water is a precious resource.” 

She said because water supply to schools will continue, the provincial government was working towards beefing up security at all schools to avoid water theft. Your security becomes critical…”

She said Day Zero can be avoided if everyone uses less than 50 litres per person per day for 150 days. 

“Water security for all public ordinary schools across the province implies that the Western Cape Education Department has to secure 23 mega litres of water daily for 1 116 516 learners, 32 000 teachers in 1 506 schools.” 

The Premier said in the short term, it was important to ensure that schools also meet sanitation and health needs; ensure there is fire safety and that hygiene requirements are met. 

In the medium to long term, the province will provide oversight in identifying further augmented water sources – from ground water, treated or recycled water to rain water. – SAnews.gov.za

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