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‘Be prepared for a crisis’

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Commercial property owners urged to take steps to protect their businesses in case Durban also dries up

Durban’s commercial property owners must take note of Cape Town’s water crisis and ensure they are adequately prepared should a similar disaster occur here. 

Right now though, Frank Reardon, head of broking at Broll KZN, says there is “probably a smugness” among local owners and businesses thinking the mother city’s drought will drive business and tourists to competing coastal locations, such as Durban. 

“However, Durban is witnessing an extremely dry summer, so we are not out of the woods here either.” Reardon urges commercial property owners to be proactive when it comes to sustainability and utilities management and utilisation, rather than waiting for a potential disaster to “derail their businesses and property investments”. 

“The drought in KwaZulu-Natal, while probably a distant memory for many, did bring water saving and harvesting into the spotlight. Businesses that introduced water harvesting off roofs, water recycling and other measures would be better prepared than those who did nothing.”

Developments also need to keep these water-saving measures in mind, says Neil Gopal, chief executive of the South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa).

“Cape Town commercial property owners have implemented significant water saving projects and technologies well in advance of this crisis. Given that water and electricity are a significant component of overall operational costs, these cost-cutting and saving measures are always explored when designing new shopping centres and office parks.”

Should Durban see a water crisis to the extent of that in Cape Town, Reardon says the hospitality sector would probably suffer most, as many visitors would stay away.

Industrial users who use large amounts of water in their manufacturing processes would also bear the brunt of it.

Should Durban experience a shortage on the scale of the water crisis in Cape Town, the city’s hospitality sector would suffer most as many visitors will stay away. Picture: Pixabay

Spire Property Management recently shared the Water-Saving Toolkit it has been rolling out on behalf of its clients.

Measures include:

  • Turn off or limit the irrigation of gardens or replace landscaping with succulents and other water-wise plants, and install synthetic lawn.
  • Adjust flush valves to reduce water flow in toilets.
  • Adjust water-flow duration and pressure from basin taps if the taps are automated.
  • Turn off all water features and fountains.
  • Install aerators on bathroom taps.
  • Turn off water to hand basins and provide waterless hand sanitisers.
  • Convert urinals to ones that are waterless.
  • Place locks on all external taps to avoid abuse.
  • When draining fire protection systems (sprinklers), redirect water into tanks or inflatable storage and then pump it back into the system afterwards or use in other applications.
  • Employ contractors who use harvested rain water for window or other cleaning.
  • Send communications to all tenants informing them of mandatory water saving measures they must adopt while at the workplace.
  • Install pre-paid water meters for high water use tenants – such as a car washes, gyms, restaurants and hair salons.
  • Install rainwater harvesting initiatives.
  • Redirect sump water from underground basements to be used in buildings.
  • Install solutions to facilitate reuse of all available grey water.
  • Sink boreholes or wellpoints at the property.
  • Make amendments to air-conditioning and HVAC systems to harvest water generated through these technologies.

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