Water Wars

Effect of drought on retail


Consumers are not the only ones who have to tighten taps in Cape Town. As South Africa’s Mother City approaches dreaded Day Zero which has been estimated to occur in July 2018, retailers and shopping centres too, have to rethink their strategies to ensure survival.

SACSC CEO, Amanda Stops, explains that retailers have come on board regarding water saving measures: “From the many initiatives detailed, one can see that this is a priority for the shopping centre industry, a situation that has been taken very seriously. The industry is committed to collaborating with all stakeholders and finding solutions in order to continue to provide safe, comfortable shopping environments.”

It’s important to be proactive when it comes to water security, especially in the retail sector. The SACSC highlights three key sectors that will be affected:

  • Building safety: All major shopping centres are sprinkler protected. The reduction in water pressure results in inadequate pressure for sprinklers to operate.
  • Food preparation: Restaurants and supermarkets need water to trade. Water supply interruptions impact on their business and also poses a health risk insofar that necessary cleaning cannot be done.
  • Ablutions: Toilets need to be flushed. The inability to do so poses as another health hazard to businesses, staff, tenants and customers.

With this in mind, what can commercial property owners do to prepare?

Stephan le Roux, director of Growthpoint Properties which owns and operates the V&A Waterfront explains: “Over and above the extensive water-saving initiatives already deployed, the V&A will be constructing their own dedicated desalination plant. Whilst this will not be in time for the current projected D-day, it will ensure future water security.”

Camilla Lor, Marketing Executive for Canal Walk, part of the HYPROP Investments Limited stable, says that HYPROP has implemented strict water saving measures in all its shopping centres: “This includes limiting the use of water deployed inside the centres and external amenities. To remain top of mind and to reinforce the change in attitude that is required from everyone – shoppers, retailers, visitors, staff etc – all centres have engaged in regular communications to tenants, including suggestions for easily implementable water saving tactics, as well as highlighting the successes the centres achieve on an ongoing basis.”

Top Ways to Save Water in the Commercial and Retail Sector

Marna van der Walt, CEO of Excellerate Property Services, outlines steps to take to limit your water footprint.

  1. Perform daily water checks: Inspecting the water meter allows you to gauge current water consumption and compare this to established patterns.
  2. Limit leaks: Installing an alarm on water systems creates an alert when water is flowing, allowing you to stop it sooner rather than later.
  3. Aerators: Water use can also be reduced and regulated by installing aerators on all bathroom and kitchen taps.
  4. Features: Getting rid of or replacing water fountains or living walls
  5. Windows: Instead of washing all windows, it’s a good idea to only clean internal windows that are i customer-facing areas. Even then, use minimal water.
  6. Mopping bathroom floors, instead of scrubbing, is a great water saving technique.
  7. Tanks: Along with rain water, water tanks can also be used to collect recycled water from air-conditioners.
  8. Plants: consider replacing the gardens within your premises with indigenous water wise plants that require less irrigation.
  9. Treated effluent: This is ideal for water gardens
  10. Bathrooms: Install waterless urinals. Replace soap with waterless sanitiser or wipes.


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