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What You Need to Know About the Water Restrictions in Cape Town

by Lara Behrens
8th January 2018 City Stay
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Cape Town is facing one of its worst droughts in living memory. Since 2001, the city has had a water conservation and demand management policy to reduce its water consumption. These efforts kept overall water demand relatively stable until 2014, when demand started to rise. Due to a combination of lower rainfall in the winter of 2016 and 2017, and a relatively slow initial governance response to the drought, the city officially declared a water crisis in 2017.

In early April 2017, Cape Town was down to its last 100 days of water. The water levels in the dams that supply the city had fallen to 20% of their capacity. In response, the city imposed Level Four water restrictions. These include stricter limits on residential water use and strongly recommend a limit of 100 litres per person per day. They also include a ban on irrigation, and a 350 litres per day cap on the free basic water allocation for impoverished households, regardless of household size. On 05 September 2017, these restrictions were escalated to Level Five!

Given that Cape Town is currently facing significant water shortages and can expect more frequent droughts in the future, the time has come for more carefully planned long term interventions.

In an attempt to reduce water usage, some hotels have implemented the following initiatives:

  • Bath plugs have been removed = saving +- 50 litres per room / per day
  • Shower heads and taps are being fitted with aerators = reducing water usage by 50%
  • Timers are being installed in showers
  • Cistern capacity has been reduced
  • Guests will be asked to leave any used bottles of water in their room for housekeepers to collect and recycled
  • Bed linen is changed every other day
  • Guest will be requested to re-use towels

The current water restrictions may impact on guests experience when staying in Cape Town, however it is now necessary for hotels to do their bit to respect water restrictions, and we ask for guests' understanding.

A word from our friends at Cape Cadogan Hotel, Cape Town

We need to all do what we can to reduce the amount of water consumed. Our aim is to reduce our consumption by at least 20%, year on year. While a number of initiatives have been implemented from an operational perspective, thankfully many of our guests are environmentally conscious, and are working closely with us through their mindful consumption of this very scarce natural resource. You will notice that our swimming pools are empty. In line with the Cape Town City’s decision to close many of its public pools, we elected to do the same in an effort to prevent needless waste of water. We have also included some water-saving tips for your convenience below, and are so grateful for your understanding as we collectively unite to support our beautiful city during this very challenging time.

A word from our friends at One & Only, Cape Town 

We are seriously committed to drastically reducing water usage across the resort. We have invested heavily in our resources, technology and water saving initiatives in order to do so.

With water at critical levels, we’re taking every possible step to effectively manage our water consumption and encourage our guests to ‘Save Like A Local’.

A word from our friends at Cape Grace, Cape Town 

We have been implementing supportive measures to protect this precious commodity since 2016, and continue to do so in light of the Western Cape’s water crisis. 

Some of our initiatives include:

  1. All guests being reminded on check-in on the severity of the drought in person, via collateral with their keys and signage in public areas, their bedrooms and bathrooms.
  2. Hand sanitiser bottles are gifted to each guest during the course of their stay reminding them of the need to conserve water.
  3. New showerheads and aerators on our taps to reduce the flow of running water.
  4. Pressure reducing valves on the hot and cold water feeds into each individual room.
  5. Screens on all cooling towers to reduce spillage and evaporation.
  6. Use of local water wise plants throughout the hotel and use grey water to water our gardens.
  7. We have removed treatments from our Spa that use large amounts of water.
  8. Our Pool has been treated with an oil-based liquid called Heatsavr, a Liquid Pool Blanket which is a non-toxic and not harmful to the environment.  It acts as a natural oil insulation, minimising evaporation. 
  9. Our baths have been “unplugged” in an effort to further reduce water.
  10. We are in the process of finalising the installation of our own Water from Air plant – this ground-breaking technology uses the humidity in the air to create water which allows us to be less dependent on municipal water
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