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.
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
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
What is your plan for water in case a fire
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?
Drought Business Support
Cape Government’s 110 Green page
- Email the WCG for support on continuity planning:
- 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.