S.Africa's Cape Town to activate disaster operations center as water crisis worsens

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-28 23:39:13|Editor: Zhou Xin
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CAPE TOWN, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- The City of Cape Town announced on Sunday that it will be activating the Disaster Operations Center (DOC) next week to prepare for the worst scenario that would result from a depeening water crisis.

The DOC, headed by water expert Richard Bosman, will be responsible for executing the city's Water Disaster Plan designed for Day Zero when dams supplying water to the city run dry, water taps are switched off and residents have to collect water at designated points, the city said in a notice.

It will be the task of the DOC to manage the water collection points (WCPs), according to the notice.

"A great deal of preparation is being done to ensure that this happens as efficiently as possible," the notice said.

The city's Disaster Risk Management Department has been consulting with the international community since early last year on how best to distribute water in a time of crisis.

"We will shut off supply to taps when our dams reach a collective level of 13.5 percent," the notice said.

Currently dam levels stand at about 26.7 percent.

Day Zero is predicted to arrive on April 12.

The detail around how the WCPs will be managed has captured much of the public's attention.

Panic has arisen these days as people begin to imagine what their lives will be like if they have to queue for water every day.

The city said it is looking at the local context of each WCP to build flexibility into the way each individual point is managed.

"We are designing the collection points to ensure that they can be managed in the most efficient way possible," the city said.

The city pledged to trouble-shoot each WCP so that, if Day Zero arrives, people are able to collect water as quickly and safely as possible.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have confirmed that they will assist the city to secure the WCPs.

The deployment will include inner perimeter security as well as outer perimeter security. There will be static deployment as well as rotational vehicle patrols.

"Every possible contingency is being considered and we will continuously evaluate and fine-tune these measures in the lead up to Day Zero, and in the days that follow," the city said.

The city urged all Capetonians to join in the effort to bring individual consumption down to 50 litres a day so as to avoid running out of water.

"If we don't want to queue, we must save water now. If we can keep our daily water use below 50 litres per person, we can avoid Day Zero," the city said.

As the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg, Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape Province and the seat of South Africa's Parliament, with a population of about 6 million.

The number of domestic and international tourists visiting the city reaches more than five million every year.