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In 2017/18, Western Cape faced the worst drought in 100 years. Targeted measures to regulate water consumption prevented Cape Town from running out of water.
Western Cape faced its worst drought in 100 years during the 2017/18 period, with the City of Cape Town running the risk of becoming the 1st major city in the world to run out of water. However, through its water business continuity plans, the occurrence of „Day Zero“ was averted. Valuable lessons were learned during this process, e.g. the City of Cape Town was able to cut its water consumption by 50%, a phenomenal achievement. The response focused on improving water demand management and increasing water sources, particularly for high and medium risk municipalities, provincial departments, business chambers, etc.
Western Cape Government’s response focused primarily on the following areas:
- Information Management: Maintain situational awareness through systematic and planned processes for tasking, collecting, processing, analysing and disseminating information (A drought risk monitoring dashboard was created);
- Inter-governmental, Inter-agency, Whole-of-Society Response: Manage a coordinated response, support any request for assistance with maximum responsiveness; and
- Stakeholders communications: Inform stakeholders and media to enable a sustained „Whole of Society“ response to the Drought Disaster, and its consequences.
Of critical importance was the management of the narrative regarding „Day Zero“ as it was impacting the tourism sector, a critical economic sector in Western Cape.
One of the innovative projects launched was the smart water meters that were installed in 350 schools of the province, together with a behavioural change initiative, to reduce waste. Two universities, 2 departments, 1 radio station and more than 90 corporates participated.
Graham Paulse, Head of Department – Local Government