Published: 2017-10-05

With the advent of spring on the 1st of September, it is reasonable to assume that the traditional "rainy season" in Cape Town is-unfortunately in this case-behind us, which will only exacerbate the problem of water shortages facing the Western Cape. The current drought is really biting our region and, to this end, the CoCT introduced Level 5 water restrictions from the 3rd September.
In summary, these restrictions limit each person to use no more than 87 liters of potable water per day, in total, calculated over your use at home and at your workplace. Households are limited to the use of a maximum of 20,000 liters per calendar month, with effect from the 1st October and commercial premises are required to reduce their monthly consumption of potable water by 20%, compared to their consumption for the previous year.
This is now a serious crisis and our Industry needs to play its part in conserving this precious resource by using alternative water sources such as boreholes, wellpoints, harvested rainwater, recycled water, greywater, treated effluent and spring water wherever possible.
We all need to scrupulously comply with the requirements listed in the Level 5 restrictions with regard to not using potable water for the washing down of hard surfaces, or the filling of new swimming pools or the topping up of existing pools, to name only a few prohibited activities.
This presents a new and unique set of challenges to contractors with regard to the logistics and costs associated with sourcing and transporting the alternatively sourced water to site. In addition, working with recycled effluent presents OHS and environmental risks, which need to be carefully addressed by contractors in order to protect their workforce from infection by pathogens, as well as preventing this material from entering the municipal storm water system.
The technical risks associated with using alternative water sources also need to be carefully assessed, especially with regard to its use in the mixing of concrete and mortar in the construction of structural elements. The decorating and painting trades also need to evaluate the potential effect of contaminants in the alternative water source/s, with regard to compatibility with the products that are to be applied, after the surface preparation has been completed.
The use of drinking water for the cleaning of building sites and plant and equipment is entirely prohibited and compliance as regards this water-hungry activity needs to be carefully monitored and strictly enforced.
In addition, dust suppression activities and site ablutions need to be carried out and supplied via an alternative water source. Care must be taken with regard to the washing of hands using recycled water, as well as the risk of possible contamination posed by the inhalation of water droplets in the form of "mist" in windy site conditions.
Simply put, this situation is likely to be the new normal for our region for the foreseeable future and we all need to apply our minds to find innovative ways of preserving water. Failure to immediately reduce our consumption of this precious resource and to strictly comply with the letter and spirit of the local authority's management plan will result in potentially catastrophic consequences for all of us! 
City of Cape Town Water Restrictions - Construction Companies 
We have been forwarded the following notice which was issued by the City of Cape Town regarding water restrictions. Hope this is of assistance.
Good Day
A special exemption is not required for building operations.
It is important that all hose pipes are fitted with self-closing devices.
The use of municipal drinking water to dampen sand, to prevent blowing away, is not allowed.
A special exemption is however required for washing down of hard surfaces with municipal drinking water.
Alternate water sources to be used as far as possible.

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