Drought is a “watershed moment” for business | WWF South Africa

Drought is a “watershed moment” for business

Posted on 29 November 2017
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Cape Town (29 November 2017). The severe drought in the Western Cape is expected to be a taste of things to come. Businesses and individuals should prepare themselves for the “new normal”, with long-term climate predictions indicating that this region will become increasingly drier in the coming years.

This was the message from Christine Colvin, Senior Manager of WWF South Africa’s Freshwater Programme, at a special media briefing on #WatershedWednesday – a day dedicated to out-of-home water saving.

#WatershedWednesday comes on the back of the City of Cape Town’s attempt to drive down water consumption in the metropole to below 500 million litres a day in a bid to stave off the prospect of a Day Zero when the taps run dry.

The City, however, has conceded that while at least half the citizens in Cape Town have responded to the call to save water, one of the toughest areas to promote water saving is in the workplace. In a bid to assist with this challenge, WWF South Africa launched a campaign to urge extreme water-saving measures for a day to drive home the message that we all wish to avoid Day Zero. 

Colvin comments: “We have been treading water with lucky rainfall events keeping the dam levels steady over the last month, but we urgently need to hit the target of 500 ML/day if we’re going to prevent an acceleration towars Day Zero in January and February.

“The City’s augmentation of water supplies is taking longer than anticipated and this means that reducing demand is going to make or break our ability to survive the first part of next year. We can only save water while we still have it, and that option will run out fast once we hit the high temperatures of summer and more agricultural use starts. Farmers have already seen 60% of their normal allocation curtailed, and they will need to use what little they have in the first few months of next year."

With more than 30 businesses and companies coming out in support of Watershed Wednesday, the next phase of this campaign will take place under the banner of a Bucket List Challenge urging businesses to come up with innovative ideas to save water and to share these with others. Many businesses have already experienced “watershed moments” realising how dependent they are on water and how vulnerable they are to even short periods of water-shedding.  The winners of the WWF-SA competition will be announced during Earth Hour on 24 March next year.

Dr Morné du Plessis, CEO of WWF-SA, says: “Through this campaign we hope to shift the conversation around cubicle use and encourage businesses to kick-start water saving innovations as well as incremental adjustments to reduce daily litres used.

“In the face of climate change, we all need to make profound adjustments to adapt to an uncertain water future. Any changes to business as usual now will benefit water resilience in the long-term and help to sustain our economy and South Africa’s future. This is why WWF South Africa has chosen, among its water initiatives, to launch a corporate competition that will encourage businesses to think differently and to share their experiences with others.”
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