Countdown to Cape Town’s Day Zero: 73 Days to go

29 Jan 2018

If and when Day Zero comes, will it be ok to use sea water to flush toilets.


Its 73 days before Cape Town hits #Day Zero, a day when water taps are set to run dry in South Africa’s second largest city with a population of four million. The city has been hit by drought weather condition three years in a row.

Use of alternative sources of water to relieve the city’s water supply system is encouraged. One question is many people’s minds is as as follows:

If and when Day Zero comes, will it be ok to use sea water to flush toilets.

Ground Up did pose this question to the city’s authorities and they responded along the following lines.

“In general, the City does not encourage the large-scale household-level flushing of toilets with sea water. It could corrode parts of the reticulation infrastructure and our wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle high salinity. As far as possible, residents are encouraged to use appropriate greywater and alternative sources, such as from boreholes, to flush toilets.

As alternative resources could diminish due to usage limits, the City will flush the sewerage system at appropriate points. This forms part of the comprehensive operational plan that the City is developing. Highly experienced and qualified engineers are working hard at putting measures in place that will ensure the system continues functioning as far as possible in the event of Day Zero occurring, to safeguard both public health and the infrastructure.

We are all having to reassess our relationship with water, and the City supports the move by residents to explore more sustainable water-wise technologies such as composting/waterless toilets.”

This forms part of a ProBonoMatters’ series titled Countdown to Cape Town’s #Day Zero: Daily information packets which are designed to assist the city navigate the unfolding crisis.

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