Day Zero – a taste of days to come

WWFs Natasha Prince and Roxanne Frizlar say notices trigger reminders to save water.

With the severe drought being a taste of a “new normal” for Cape Town, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has launched an initiative to simulate the effects of Day Zero – the day the taps run dry.

Despite the very real prospect that Capetonians will have to start queuing for water sometime in May, 64% of them, according to the City of Cape Town, are still ignoring the 87-litres-a-day restrictions.

But even those who are saving water are mostly doing so at home and show less inclination to do so in the workplace or at the shopping mall.

The WWF’s Christine Colvin says those who are already used to the idea of not flushing the toilet at home need to get into the same habit at work.

To help them do so, the WWF has launched #Watershed Wednesday. WWF staff held a dry run on Wednesday November 15 and did it again on November 29 in solidarity with other businesses (“Save water not only at home, but in the workplace, gyms…” (Bulletin, December 7).

“The idea is for everyone to experience a simulation of life with limited water,” said WWF CEO, Dr Morne du Plessis, who lives in Tokai.

“We hope to spark new toilet cubicle conversations as we embrace the very real issues surrounding limited water in the Western Cape.’’

WWF’s Natasha Prince said that on Watershed Wednesday everyone from top management to cleaning staff wore the previous day’s clothes to save on laundry loads and brought no more than 2 litres of water to the office.

“It isn’t about the specific quantity of water, it’s about the action of physically having something tangible and the choice of how we use this water,” said Ms Prince.

All taps, urns and water coolers were off limits for the day apart from an hour’s reprieve from noon to 1pm, and toilet flushing was permitted only after a number two or after four number ones.

Ms Prince said for some, the water-saving drive had been a wee bit of a challenge, particularly for women who found it difficult to pee on someone else’s pee. “What they don’t realise is that pee is sterile,” said Ms Prince. She said appointing a workplace water champion to drive the campaign could help.

Apart from #WatershedWednesday WWF use other water saving methods including sanitiser in the bathrooms and only wash dishes once a day.

For inspiration on what to do on the day, visit Watershed Wednesday ideas.

WWF South Africa has launched a Bucket List Challenge competition which rewards innovative and creative water saving ideas across the country. WWF-SA is asking businesses to share their water saving efforts and to capture these insights on a short video where possible.

The competition ends on February 28 and the winners will be announced during Earth Hour on 24 March next year.To enter, visit