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Newlands Spring

SAB’s Cape Town brewery to bottle spring water as Day Zero looms

After 200 years of making beer, Newlands Brewery in Cape Town is going into the water business, one of many corporates who will be asked to help with the city’s impending catastrophic Day Zero or municipal water shut-down come April.

Queues at the brewery’s spring, where free water can be collected, have become almost unmanageable as the reality of Day Zero has dawned on Capetonians. Collections are already limited to 25 litres per day.

Now South African Breweries “has indicated its willingness to assist in the bottling and distribution of water drawn from the Newlands spring”, according to a statement on Sunday from Michael Mpofu, spokesman for Western Cape Premier Helen Zille.

He said Zille would attend a meeting at the brewery on Monday to discuss the rollout of the plan.

In a tweet on Sunday, Zille said she would also publish a summary on Monday “of what I know at present about how Day Zero, the run-up and the aftermath, will be managed”. [You can read her very sobering Daily Maverick article here…]

Today, the article above quoted this:

South African Breweries have been the first to step up to the plate. In a discussion this weekend, Mr Ricardo Tadeu, SAB’s Zone President for Africa, and Mr Des Jacobs, SABS Western Cape Regional Director, committed the Newlands brewery to fill 12-million quart bottles with water (instead of beer) from the famous spring (whose water is normally used to brew beer).

The SAB network will deliver water to retail outlets in designated areas of greatest need over several weeks. The bottling of water will have to start as soon as possible to ensure sufficient stockpiles.

Work is well under way between SAB and the SABS to ensure that the bottled water will meet the required quality standard. Production will begin soon, and the bottles, labelled “Water, Not for Sale”, will be delivered at outlets when Day Zero arrives.

Consumers will pay R1 for each “quart” (as South Africans still refer to the large beer bottle) which is about three quarters of a litre, with a maximum limit per person. The R1 is the cost of the bottle’s deposit. The water itself is free. When the bottle is returned, empty, it will be replaced, full, at no charge.

Zille’s intervention comes after Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille admitted on last Thursday – the day before the City of Cape Town voted to relieve her of power to manage the water crisis – that Day Zero is now likely. The projected date is 20 April, though it is likely to be sooner.

Mpofu said Zille’s first meeting of the week, early on today would be with officials from national disaster management, the police, the South African Defence Force and the State Security Agency, among others.

“The focus of the meeting will be preparations for and management of Day Zero [and its aftermath],” said Mpofu.

The City of Cape Town told TimesLive on Friday that its plans for 200 water collection points around the city, where citizens will be able to collect a daily allowance of 25 litres, were still being finalised. It was unable to provide any specific information.

Reacting to the article on social media, readers expressed alarm that preparations were not more advanced.


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