Every week now, the City of Cape Town updates its water predictions. It reminds us – as if we need a reminder – that Day Zero is just months away.
That is when – unless we use less water, and more can be pumped through the system – the taps will run dry.
A lot is being done to tackle this immediate crisis. But what about the longer-term?
None of us want to live in a drought city, where the daily agenda is dominated by water worries. Richer citizens will be able to purchase extra water. The poor, for whom water challenges are sadly no novelty, will continue to suffer even more.
That is why we founded the Water Leapathon. To look beyond the current crisis and to prevent us from lapsing into a state of permanent crisis.
To ensure the taps flow in the future, we need to tap into technology, to secure substantial financing, and to overcome bureaucratic blockages.
Ambitious? Yes. Necessary? Oh, yes!
The key to our success will be through partnership. Bringing together the politicians, the engineers, the financiers, the unions and civil society.
Divided, we face a future of drought. Together, we will make a difference.
The Water Leapathon team had hoped to stage a two-day summit this week, to help understand the problem, to explore the technology, and to launch an intensive discussion and work programme. Words first. Followed by action.
It was disheartening that the response was not as strong as we had expected, although we did attract an excellent line-up of people, including the Mayor Patricia de Lille.
She will still be addressing the Cape Town Press Club, in a meeting which has our enthusiastic support.
Our challenge now is to intensify our efforts. Businesses have been so bombarded with water-related approaches that fatigue has set in.
Our challenge now is to reinvigorate the debate, to get the dialogue going again. And to do some serious analysis on the technology, the financial and legal challenges we all face in moving from water crisis to water abundance.
The aim remains to identify and to see-through three multi-billion rand projects – to boost water supply and to establish a fund to finance new water infrastructure.
There is a mammoth task ahead.
The crisis is not going away. And neither are we.
Viola Manuel is CEO of the Water Leapathon