As you have probably heard, Cape Town has been suffering under three years of unprecedented drought and currently has less than 90 days worth of water in its reservoirs. Residents have been asked to drastically cut back on water usage in the hopes of preventing Day Zero – sometime in April when the taps will run dry! City officials have decided that once the dams reach 13.5% capacity, the municipal water supply will be turned off for all but essential services, like hospitals.
Swimming pools are being closed daily and people are not allowed to top up their pools. Many schools and households have not made allowances to recycle or store water. Households are limited to 50 litres of water per person per day.
For schools that have not made adequate provisions for their pools, it’s a sad day for them to have to close. Water safety has become a part of many school curriculums as it is an essential life skill.
What does this mean for our projects, especially our Love to Langa Swimming Academy, when the filling of swimming pools with municipal water has been prohibited?
In 2014, we embarked on the ambitious endeavor to build a learn to swim indoor pool at Philippi Children’s Centre.
We wanted the following:
- an indoor, heated learn to swim pool due to reports of children drowning in local dams.
- to launch with an established swim school running our Swim Academy, training community members to eventually run our pool. The aim was and always will be to empower previously disadvantaged individuals.
- scholarships for any children who cannot afford swimming lessons.
Before we committed to the Swimming Academy, we did a lot of research. Was this a viable project? Kissmea Adams, our project manager in Cape Town heard rumblings of water being an issue although at the time there was no mention of Day Zero. A site visit to Philippi Children’s Centre proved positive when the borehole on the property was viewed. This was what the project needed to sustain itself if there was a drought.
What is a borehole?
A borehole used as a water well is completed by installing a vertical pipe (casing) and a well screen to keep the borehole from caving. This also helps prevent surface contaminants from entering the borehole and protects any installed pump from drawing in sand and sediment.
When we filled the Love to Langa Swimming Academy pool the first time, borehole water was used and it will be topped off with borehole water going forward.
Philippi Children’s Centre also has a Lilliput Sewage and Wastewater Treatment system at the school. Lilliput saves on water usage by using recycled water for flushing, irrigation, car washing and filling swimming pools and water features.
Current Love to Langa Swimming Academy Water-Saving Measures:
- No showers after swimming.
- The toilets will not be flushed – borehole water will be used to flush toilets.
- Hand sanitizer after using the toilet.
Most of the students in our schools live in shacks with no running water to begin with and must access a community tap, which we understand is not currently under ration. The situation is changing rapidly and we will be keeping a close eye on it and dearly hope and pray that our actions, along with those of countless others in Cape Town, will help alleviate this crisis until solutions can be implemented.