The Western Cape water crisis is coming to a head fast, and, for many, panic has started to sink in. With Day Zero more than likely, despite the best efforts of many residents to minimise water usage, drastic measures are now needed.
Come this day, the logistics of water collection are not known, but businesses, families and individuals in affected areas are already plotting Day Zero action plans – the result being new products and solutions springing up from businesses, supermarkets seeing record bottled water sales, and waterless hygiene products being snapped up from store shelves.
Posts are flying around social media with many people, understandably, expressing concern for citizens who may not be able to collect water for themselves such as the elderly and infirm.
One company, Amdec, has already started taking proactive steps to ensure that its retired residents will be catered for, by creating water-saving initiatives at its Evergreen retirement developments.
“Water consumption is already managed on Evergreen properties, with a focus on rain and grey water harvesting and water-wise gardens,” says Cobus Bedeker, Development Director of Evergreen Lifestyle Retirement Villages.
To ensure access to water does not become an issue at any of their five retirement villages in the Cape, Evergreen has put additional measures in place to prepare for the likelihood of Day Zero set for early April.
Evergreen developments in the Cape, including Bergvliet, Diep River, Muizenberg and Noordhoek estates will be treating borehole water for drinking water.
“Fresh bottles water will be supplied to all Evergreen residents in most case this will come from our water purification plants,” shares Bedeker.
He adds that Evergreen will also provide each home within the retirement villages with a 1000-litre slimline water tank to collect rain water to be used by residents for domestic use. This will be toped up with borehole water if need be.
One of its latest projects is the development of Val de Vie Evergreen near Paarl – the largest retirement estate in South Africa. The development went off the grid in early December 2017.
“We’re very fortunate to be in a position where there will be no ‘day zero’ at Val de Vie ,” says marketing director Ryk Neethling. “We have been working proactively with the Drakenstein municipality on this project which will free up municipal water resources for the community at large that would normally have been channelled to the 1 500 homes on the estate.”
The entire estate taps into the water-saving features already in place on the estate, including a water purification plant to utilise the underground aquifer and move away from reliance on municipal water. All new homes are being fitted with plumbing for grey water systems, along with general water-saving measures across the estate.
Water usage on the estate, including the Pearl Valley Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf course has been reduced by more than 50%.
“We have to adapt and become smarter in the way we use water. It is everyone’s responsibility to make a difference now to ensure resources for the future of South Africa,” concludes Arthur Case, Chief Executive Officer of Evergreen Retirement Holdings.
As greener, more efficient sources of energy and water continue to attract investors, Neethling says buyers want to see sustainable features as well as ethical and social responsibility from developers.
What will Day Zero mean for construction
“With the pressure on our water resource we have for some time now utilised treated effluent and borehole water during the construction phase of our construction projects,” says Bedeker. “The treated effluent water is collected by the appointed contractor at local municipal water treatment plants and is safe to use for construction and irrigation purposes. In addition, we are also focused on waterless construction methodology.”
Going forward, Evergreen is currently investigating water-saving building systems from the UK, USA and China for future projects. These building methodologies use limited water, improved quality – as most components are manufactured in factories – and reduce the construction period.
‘We are following countries like China, US, UK where most homes are constructed from steel, timber and environmentally friendly materials,” Bedeker concludes.
Waterwise construction is of course the future of the construction industry in South Africa.