Small laundry businesses heavily affected by water restrictions

A picture of Theewaterskloof dam depicting the extent of the drought. Photo by Mzi Velapi

The current water restrictions are already affecting small businesses that rely on water, like hair salons, car-washes and laundry businesses which are struggling to keep up.

Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

The water crisis affecting Cape Town has affected laundry businesses ahead of the looming Day Zero when the taps run dry. City officials have pushed Day Zero back from the 12th of April to the 16th. The 6B water restriction which limits consumption to 50 litres per person per day has been implemented since Thursday, 1 February.

Elitsha visited some laundromats in Khayelitsha and a green laundry that has been using borehole water since the onset of the crisis. Nkomshish laundry is severely affected by the lack of water. “We don’t have other means of saving water,” said the branch manager Thamsanqa Kutta. He said that they use thousands of litres of water from the City of Cape Town every month and pay a huge water bill.

Kutta told Elitsha that they bought two Jojo tanks with the hope that when some rain comes, they will be able to hold water in store. Nkomshish laundry business has been operating since 2013 and he says, they will be looking at the process of water recycling to save more water.

Another laundry business with branches in Ilitha Park and Mandalay is already using borehole water. “Borehole is the most powerful tool to save water because you don’t need to pay water bills,” said the owner of Ziyanhlanjwa Laundry Services, Nobulali Mongo. She is saving water and money by using borehole water in one of the branches to save money. She also said that she is using washing machines that do not use a lot of water.

The Green Planet laundry is catering for individuals and different companies at the airport industrial zone in the Western Cape. It has been operating for three months now, using borehole, recycled and stored water.

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The owner, Toni Soared said they saw the great need to do business that is adept to the water challenges the city is facing.  Soares said they don’t have water bills. 98% of the water they use comes from underground. Green Planet laundry has 33 permanent employees.

Soares said he is keen to take his business to similar countries like Windhoek in Namibia and California in America which experiences similar water challenges. The City of Cape Town has urged people to use water sparingly. Mayoral Committee member, Anda Ntsodo has encouraged other businesses to use water from underground.

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