Water Wise in Cape Town

Water Wise in Cape Town

With all the news and hype about the Mother City’s current water situation, you might be wondering if Cape Town is still a viable shoot location. Thanks to the highly innovative and creative local people, it absolutely is and filming can continue as always.

To help put your mind at ease, please see below how all the departments are doing their bit to save water and keep the cameras rolling.

As of the 25th January 2018, the local government has advised that even though we have an anticipated “Day Zero” date of the 12th April 2018, the practical roll out of this will take at least a week.
No state of emergency has been put in place and no travel bans have been issued.
In order to keep “Day Zero” as a moving target and pushing it into winter, Cape Town is clicking into Level 6B water restrictions on the 01st of February 2018. The main implications for you in this legislation are as follows:
Every person in Cape Town is allowed to use 50l of water per day. This includes washing ( 1 minute showers ), drinking, toilet flushing and cooking. The hotels and restaurants are already assisting you with this usage in terms of their individual water management systems, so you will just need to be conservative and not let taps run excessively, take no baths and only flush the toilet when you absolutely need to.
The CBD will always have running water, so if shooting after Day Zero, you will not have dry taps if staying in a hotel in the city centre.

We have spoken with a number of hotels in the city and each and every one of them is implementing water saving techniques to abide by the legislation. You will notice this in the following ways:
Signage and letters everywhere about water restrictions and being especially conservative with your personal water usage
Requests to only wash sheets and towels as needed and not daily – some hotels are using non- potable water to do laundry and fill pools, thereby not drawing off the municipal supply. Requests to not flush the toilets unless absolutely necessary – you do get used to this! Everyone is being asked to take a 1 minute shower – this is completely manageable if you switch off the tap while you lather up.
Choose bottled over tap water every time – this is pretty common for our international guests any way.
Hand Towels have been replaced with paper towels in all bathrooms
Taps in some hotels have been aerated to minimise water flow – has made a 40% saving in some hotels.
All vehicles are being washed with chemical solutions and not water
Restaurants are using paper napkins as opposed to linen ones to keep washing to a minimum Water from ice machines and ice buckets is being recycled
Fruit and vegetables are being washed in basins rather than under running taps.

There will be a shortage of locations that are water reliant – pools, dams, lakes and rivers, however there are still places available to you as a result of borehole / well-point water.
Moving further out of the Cape Town City center will provide more options for more water-centered locations
Green gardens will be fewer than normal, however as there is no restriction on borehole / well-point water there will be green locations available. We would not recommend going on database images for location choices, but to definitely check all locations with an actual scout and then production will monitor the locations shortlisted until your arrival.

Catering companies are bringing in water from outside of the Western Cape or farming rain water to keep their cleaning usage to a minimum.
Linen table cloths are being replaced by plastic ones to cut down on washing. The plastic cloths will be sanitised by waterless, biodegradable detergents.
They will be utilising biodegradable disposable crockery to prevent massive water usage in washing up. This will come with a small surcharge which will be reflected in your estimates.
The bottled water will only be sourced from springs and will therefore not draw off municipal water.
As a company, Red Petal Productions is trying to minimise plastic bottles by providing crew with re-usable water bottles that can be filled with dispensers on set.
Unit departments are making responsible use of borehole water, although this water is not suitable for consumption, it is perfectly fine for the needs of a unit department. Porta-loos are using minimal water.
Hand sanitisers are being provided on set and in the port-loos.
The porta-loos are using borehole water for servicing and grey water is being disposed of in a responsible manner.

Lets start by saying – Any water effects are achievable as per always, just a little more creatively!
All exemptions previously issued have been revoked and no companies may draw water from the city.
Rain Water harvesting and well points are being used to provide water for sets, as well as treated recycled water being sold to the teams from the city. This water would have been disposed of, so it has no adverse effect on the municipal storage.
All water is tested and treated to ensure safe contact with humans.
Water needs to be transported to set or sourced from a local well point or borehole on the location. Temporary storage tanks can be used on locations if required and set up the day before shooting. These will carry a nominal surcharge that will be reflected in your estimates.
In order to limit water wastage, there is a request to keep water effects to 10 000l per day. Most rain effects use less than 10kl / day.
No wet downs unless absolutely essential and in this case they will use treated effluent water.
There is ample signage and paperwork present with all teams to confirm that no municipal water is being used for any SFX, should any of the public kick up a fuss.

Dry cleaning is becoming the way forward for the costume & wardrobe departments.
The hire companies are also using garment disinfectant and fabric softener to keep clothes fresh and germ free.
In extreme cases, harvested rain water is being used to launder garments and the water from the washes are being recycled for flushing toilets, watering plants, etc. Hire companies like Costume Hire have spent time and effort in purchasing and setting up 3 – 4 water tanks each holding 5000L of harvested rain water.

Waterwise car cleaning companies like Green Machine and Eco Car Wash are fast becoming the norm for film industry vehicle hire and chaperones alike. The benefits are; 100% environmentally friendly.
100% natural and soluble cleaning agents.
Zero ‘toxic runoff’ or water pollution.
We save a whopping 110 million litres of drinking water per year.

Thanks for taking the time to familiarise yourself with the current way forward in Cape Town. We hope that this information has alleviated any doubts you might have had about your next shoot.
We are happy to guide you through any queries that might arise around potential shoots in our Beautiful Mother City!