Day Zero not an option – FEDHASA Cape urges private sector to do more to conserve water now

October 2017: Following the release of the City of Cape Town’s Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan last week, FEDHASA Cape, together with its hotel member establishments are leading the way with its water-wise efforts and have vowed to increase them during the upcoming peak tourism season and challenge the private sector to follow suit.

Joep Schoof, Chairperson: FEDHASA Cape Hotels segment; Jeff Rosenberg, Chairperson: FEDHASA Cape; Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, Western Cape; Chris Godenir, Alternate: FEDHASA Cape Hotels segment and Councillor Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy

FEDHASA Cape Chairperson, Jeff Rosenberg addressed the water crisis and the ‘new norm’ for hotels at a General Manager’s Water Crisis Seminar hosted at the Belmont Mount Nelson last week. The seminar kicked off with a presentation by Sarah Rushmere, Sustainable Special Projects, Directorate of Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services at the City of Cape Town. Rushmere unpacked the various phases in the city’s disaster plan; the Western Cape is currently in phase 1. She stressed the importance encouraging the 87 litres/person/day usage in this industry and added that establishments need to use bolder signage to educate locals and tourists alike.

Jane Reddick of GreenCape – a non-profit organisation that drives the widespread adoption of economically viable green economy solutions in the Western Cape delivered her presentation on the organisation’s role in saving water. Thereafter members participated in a Q&A discussion and directed questions to the panel made-up of Rosenberg; Western Cape Minister for Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde; Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg and Lea Smith, Institute of Plumbing South Africa. 

After the seminar, each member signed the FEDHASA Cape Water Wise Pledge to demonstrate the establishment’s commitment to reducing its water consumption and increasing awareness campaigns for guests, particularly as tourists prepare to flock to the Mother City for the upcoming peak holiday season. The pledge was later handed over to Minister Winde. 

“Day zero is not an option and we are challenging the commercial sector to work alongside us to avoid it. Water saving is a unified effort and hoteliers can’t do it alone. The responsibility to conserve this much-needed resource rests on all of our shoulders. We were united with the power crisis and we need to do the same now. Everyone agrees that we’re nothing without water,” said Jeff Rosenberg.

The FEDHASA Cape Water Wise Pledge states: “FEDHASA Cape supports the Western Cape Province and the City of Cape Town’s Water Saving initiatives, and we challenge all associations and businesses to take urgent action to save water. We are committed to both short and long-term improvement in our water conservation measures, as a part of our commitment to responsible tourism practices that protect and enhance the natural, cultural, social and economic environment.”

Each individual member establishment that signed the pledge will also sign and display a copy of the full pledge in their respective properties for all to see and be reminded that Cape Town hotels are doing what’s necessary to conserve water.  In addition, FEDHASA Cape will also establish a ‘Water Wise Task Team’ to assist members to, among other things, develop a water wise policy and implementation plan for their businesses, as well as assist with the capturing and monitoring process.

To strengthen member establishments’ awareness campaigns, Rosenberg said hotels are advised to “start in the lobby”. He suggested “in your face tactics” to communicate to guests, including international visitors, the extent of the crisis and urged hotels to continue implementing existing initiatives and enforcing new ones. 

“We need to be robust in our efforts and need to start thinking innovatively to come-up with new, fresh ideas to prevent this crisis from extending any further,” he said. 

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