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Cape Town, SA running out of water - still go?

northwoodsgal

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My husband and I booked a week in Cape Town beginning 5/18/2018 which was intended to be part of a SA vacation that included a safari (east of Durban). Now I see that Cape Town is having a severe water shortage. We haven't booked our flight or safari yet and am debating whether or not we should postpone the whole trip. Or, we could continue with our planned trip and, if Cape Town is an issue, leave it and do some extra travelling in the eastern part of the country. If we are in Cape Town, and the expected water cutoff happens, it seems that the city would be less safe and could potentially have rioting. I see the Peninsula is requiring that we purchase drinking water when we check in - wonder what that will cost!

What would you do?

I emailed the Peninsula Resort to ask about the water situation and received the following information sheet:


Planning to visit Cape Town and the Western Cape? Come and enjoy, but be mindful of the drought Come enjoy…. Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business in spite of the current drought. Visitors are arriving in a place with a significant breadth and depth of experiences and exceptional beauty. However, as beautiful as it is, the Western Cape is a water-scarce part of the world (much like Southern California and Western Australia) and is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and is susceptible to periodic droughts. At present the Western Cape is experiencing a significant drought. This is a 1 in 1000-year occurrence. To counter the short-term effects of the drought and the possibility of running out of water, the City has put in place a number of initiatives to increase the supply of water and make provision for extreme water shortages. There are still many places across the Western Cape that are not as severely affected by the drought such as the nearby Garden Route and the Cape Overberg.
…but be mindful Below average rainfall over a number of years has forced everyone who lives in or visits Cape Town to rethink their water usage behaviors. Responsible consumption of water is the new normal – not just in Cape Town but in many other water-scarce places in the world. Some parts of the tourism and hospitality industry have proactively adjusted how they utilize water to reduce their consumption – giving guests peace of mind that every drop is being used responsibly. In the event of what the City of Cape Town refers to as ‘Day Zero’, there will be available water for tourists and locals’ critical needs. This is considered to be water for personal hygiene and consumption. ‘Day Zero’ is when the City of Cape Town cuts the regular flow of water. ‘Day Zero’ is a projected date that is entirely dependent on current rates of water consumption: if all stakeholders adhere to the required water savings target, ‘Day Zero’ can be avoided. Much like a local, tourists need to treat this scarce resource with the utmost respect. an inspiring place to do business
Frequently asked questions If tourists visit Cape Town / The Western Cape will there be water? • There is adequate water for tourists’ essential daily needs such as washing, using the toilet, and other daily hygeine. In the event of ‘Day Zero’, water will be severly rationed but sufficient for daily needs. At present water restrictions are in place in the City of Cape Town, and residents and tourists are requested to adhere to them.
What does ‘Day Zero’ mean? • ‘Day Zero’ is when the City of Cape Town would cut the regular flow of water. • ‘Day Zero’ is a projected date (in approximately three months time at current projections) that is entirely dependent on current rates of water consumption: if all stakeholders adhere to the required water savings target, ‘Day Zero’ can be avoided. • Tourists would still be able to enjoy the diverse and world-class experiences Cape Town and the Western Cape has to offer.
If “Day Zero” arrives, how long will the ordinary flow of water be cut? • Cape Town is located in a winter rainfall area. Historically the winter rains have started in April, but they can start as late as June. We should be prepared to live with very little water for around three months, with the hope that by the end of winter, enough rain has fallen to switch the water system back on, but it all depends on when rain falls in the water source areas that feed the dams.
How widespread is the drought in South Africa? • The drought and resultant water restrictions are mostly isolated to parts of the Western Cape province – particularly the City of Cape Town and surrounding areas. • Nearby regions like The Cape Overberg and The Garden Route are less impacted by water restrictions. It’s important to remember that South Africa in general is a water-scarce country.
Will tourists have access to drinking water? • Yes.
Will tourists be able to bath, shower or use a swimming pool? • At present, tourists will be able to shower and maintain daily hygiene. Mandated guidelines suggest a shower of no longer than 2 minutes. The use of baths is entirely discouraged. Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water. • The majority of tourism establishments have put in place measures to ensure their water usage is reduced, and many have developed plans for alternative supplies.
Will restaurants and bars still be in operation? • In the event of ‘Day Zero’ - yes. Many parts of the hospitality industry have proactively implemented water savings and water augmentation solutions to ensure ongoing availability of water in their establishments. • Restaurants and bars are not currently negatively influenced but must still comply with water restrictions.
Which tourism activities could be impacted? • Tourists will still be able to access and enjoy primary tourism attractions such as our iconic Table Mountain, Cape Point and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. • Specific river-based experiences may be impacted.
Will emergency services still function in the event of ‘Day Zero’? • Yes. All critical emergency services (hospitals, clinics, police services) will continue to function.
Will major events still be staged? • Yes. All major events have proactively put in place plans to ensure that events have a zero or heavily reduced water footprint e.g. bringing in water from outside of Cape Town / the Western Cape. an inspiring place to do business For further enquiries relating to tourism please mail water@wesgro.co.za
 

Luanne

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I didn't read your entire message. But I can give some minor input. My sil and bil are going to Namibia, and will be staying in Cape Town for a couple of days on both ends of that trip. She said they were told the "tourist areas" will be spared, at least until around mid-April.
 

northwoodsgal

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Yeah, we're a month after the anticipated Day Zero. I'm sure the guarantee for tourists to have water can also change. What I haven't found out is how much rain will it take to get the water supply at least back on track.
 

LisaH

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We were there last Oct and water was already in short supply. We were told ahead of time that resort pools would be drained. Also we were adviced not to take a bath but to take quick showers instead. Overall, it did not affect our enjoyment of this beautiful city. Now I am not sure if Kirstenboch (botanic Garden) will still be open or as beautiful.
 

dgf15215

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Thank you for your post. My wife and I will arrive in Cape Town a few days after you, on the 21st. This has been a bit of a concern, my wife starting to ask how many bottles of water we can stash in the luggage. This note will serve as some relief and a much lighter suitcase. I've survived much worse but I was a lot younger and much less spoiled.

Hard to understand how they didn't see this coming and build desalinization plants. For example, The Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination facility is a drought-proof, alternative water supply that provides up to 25 million gallons per day of drinking water to the region. Seawater coming into the plant goes through a rigorous pretreatment process then freshwater is separated from the seawater using reverse osmosis.

In any case, I hope that we both have a great trip.
 
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