Cape Town companies need to prepare for Day Zero

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It’s no secret that Cape Town is facing a potentially catastrophic crisis in 2018. Despite efforts by citizens and businesses alike to save water, the local dams are about to run dry, leaving Cape Town without running water.

Since no major city has ever completely run out of water before (Barcelona came close in 2008) we really have no idea what to actually expect.  

However, if Cape Town businesses are going to get through this crisis, they will have to adapt and implement solutions that will enable business to continue as usual.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says Cape Town will likely be without running water for 3 to 6 months. Businesses, and schools, that don’t have an independent and proven safe supply of drinking and sanitation water will probably be forced to close as sanitation issues become a problem.

The knock-on effect of this will be disastrous.

Business Continuity Plan

One way companies can prepare for the worst is by developing a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). This plan aims to ensure that essential services still run, that clients and customers are taken care of and that the business stays afloat until the worst is over.

In addition, businesses must prepare their employees and have plans in place for mitigating job losses and down time. Some businesses can enable their employees to work from home, but others need staff on-site, which could prove problematic if there isn’t adequate sanitation in place.

While reducing water consumption immediately remains a priority, any efforts made now will pay off well beyond the current drought period, as water saving will become the new normal for Cape Town for years to come. So current investments into recycling and reducing water will pay off in the long run.

Points to consider

The Western Cape Government (WCG) suggest some points to consider when developing a business continuity plan for your organisation:

·         Work out your needs – actual minimum vs historic use

·         Reduce water consumption to as low as possible while maintaining production.

·         What are you doing to store or capture more water? e.g. rainwater tanks, capturing stormwater into pools etc.

·         What else are you doing to provide own water supplies? e.g. boreholes, desalination, water from air

·         Are you treating the stored or other water supplies in any way? Unless you treat the water to a potable standard, you can only use it for non-potable water            functions.

·         What is your plan for emergency potable water supplies – i.e. for drinking, cooking and basic hygiene?

·         What is your plan for sanitation? If your system has no water or low water pressure, the normal toilet facilities will be compromised.

·         What is your plan for water in case a fire breaks out?

·         Have you engaged with your insurance company with regards to cover should a fire occur?

·         How many people can you supply for should the water mains be switched off in terms of direct and sanitation use?

·         If the system cannot supply enough for all employees, have you mapped out which functions are critical and which functions can be performed at home?

·         Have you engaged with your suppliers to check that they have done their own business continuity planning?

Other resources include:

GreenCape Drought Business Support

The Western Cape Government’s 110 Green page

Take action:

  • Email the WCG for support on continuity planning: Karen.Shippey@westerncape.gov.za
  • Keep an eye on the Day Zero dashboard
  • Only use municipal drinking water for essential purposes, and only use indoors
  • Review your operations to see how your business or organisations can reduce its water consumption
  • Encourage staff and colleagues to save water at the workplace and at home
  • Check and fix all leaks on your property

Does your business have a BCP in place? What can you suggest to other businesses in your industry? Share in the comments below.