Temporal case study of household behavioural response to Cape Town's Day Zero using smart meter data

Booysen, M. J. ; Visser, M. ; Burger, R. (2018-11-13)

CITATION: Booysen, M. J., Visser, M. & Burger, R. 2018. Temporal case study of household behavioural response to Cape Town's Day Zero using smart meter data. Water Research, 149:414-420, doi:10.1016/j.watres.2018.11.035.

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Article

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Faced with the threat of "Day Zero", when it was feared that Cape Town's taps could run dry, consumers reduced household water usage from 540 to 280 litres per household per day over the 36 months between January 2015 and January 2018. This paper describes the events that prompted this reduction. We look at how changes in water use were a ected by o cial announcements and by public engagement with this news via the social media activity and internet searches. We analysed the water usage of a subset of middle to high income households where smart hot and cold water meters were installed. For hot water usage patterns we compared meter readings with that in another area una ected by the drought. We further map our cold water smart meter readings against that of the City of Cape Town's municipal data for domestic freestanding households | a sample of more than 400,000 households. We found that the introduction of Level 5 restrictions had a perverse e ect on consumption, possibly due to confusing messages. The most dramatic change in behaviour appears to have been instigated by a media storm and consequent user panic after the release of the City's CriticalWater Shortages Disaster Plan in October 2017. However, contradictory communication from national and provincial government eroded some of this gain. The paper concludes with recommendations for demand management in a similar future scenario.

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