Premier gives lesson to keep Day Zero at bay

Premier Helen Zille spoke to 1000 school principals last week, outlining provincial government’s plan to keep the schools open should Day Zero hit.

During the briefing at the Western Cape Sports School in Kuils River, Ms Zille said Cape Town could still avoid Day Zero – which has been pushed out to mid-May – if all residents used less than 50 litres of water a person a day.

“This must be the first priority. However, the Western Cape government must be ready to augment water supplies to schools, if consumption targets are not met and our dam levels reach 13.5% before the winter rains,” she warned.

“At this point, the City of Cape Town intends to turn off water to most areas in the metro, in order to manage and preserve the remaining supply. Our job is to make sure schools remain open and operational, with adequate alternative water supply to do so.”

A key priority, she said, was making sure schools had sufficient storage should water need to be tankered to them to meet basic fire safety and hygiene needs.

Wolraad Woltemade Primary School principal Elaine Kesten said she was impressed with the plans to transport water to areas that needed it.

“We do our part to try and save water by using grey water to flush the toilets. We don’t have a water tank, but we do have a borehole even though it’s not in use as of yet,” she said.

“Another thing that we have done was to get the kids to bring their own drinking water to school.”

Inkwenkwezi High School principal Tembuxolo Kutu was not at the briefing, but he said he backed plans to find long-term solutions to the water crisis.

“Currently, we use our irrigation tanks as our water supply. We often have programmes where we try to teach our learners about the importance of saving water and how they can do it. We have also had to cancel some of our sporting codes because of the lack of water and we can’t water our fields,” said Mr Kutu.

Milnerton High School principal Paul Besener said it was important for government to support the schools during the crisis, especially those without contingency plans.

“On the bright side, I like that the premier said that no schools will be closed as a result of the water issue.”We have a water plan and we ask our students to bring their own drinking water, and this, I believe, will help with illnesses.

“In terms of sports, we often organise the odd friendly with other schools because some have stopped playing sports entirely,” said Mr Besener.