CAPE TOWN - As dam levels dropped rapidly at the end of 2017 and Cape Town faced the looming threat of becoming the first major city where taps would run dry, households were forced to pull out all the stops to save water. But Coca Cola and other big industrial users were given a free pass.

Coca-Cola and Cape Town’s sweetheart Day Zero deal

A months-long investigation revealed how the City of Cape Town favoured corporate business, while imposing draconian measures on the city’s approximately four-million residents to force them to cut back their water usage.

Moreover, the city of Cape Town failed to provide the media with detailed information on water use by the city’s ten biggest consumers, including Coca Cola.

H20 Fail
While Capetonians were pulling out all the stops to save water during the drought, and getting heavily penalised if they didn’t, big business was not held to account by City authorities. Photo: Steve Kretzmann

Big business guzzled water

A follow-up investigation by Steve Kretzmann and Raymond Joseph finally was able to expose ten big industrial users’ water billings. While households were blamed for over-excessive water use, big industrial users were given little more than a slap on the wrist for their significant water consumption.

The data had been obtained from the City of Cape Town after a long Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application and a subsequent drawn-out battle for clarity on the information supplied.

Poorly treated effluent sends refinery water use skyrocketing

Another follow-up story revealed how Cape Town’s failure to maintain a key wastewater treatment plant costs the city a billion litres of drinking water. A refinery which usually uses an effluent from a treatment plant switched to drinking water because the effluent is too dirty.

Steve Kretzmann

Steve Kretzmann is a freelance journalist with over 20 years of experience, based in South Africa.

Steve Kretzmann

Raymond Joseph

Raymond Joseph is an award-winning freelance investigative journalist. He heads up the southern African hub of the Centre for Cooperative Investigative Journalism.

Raymond Joseph

Nompumelelo Mtsweni

Nompumelelo Mtsweni is an independent web developer and researcher.

Nompumelelo Mtsweni
Grant of €3175 allocated on 01/08/2019


Coca-Cola and Cape Town’s sweetheart Day Zero deal

Coca-Cola and Cape Town’s sweetheart Day Zero deal - GroundUp, 8 May 2020

Coca-Cola, the City of Cape Town and Day Zero tariffs - News24, 9 May 2020

Coca-Cola and Cape Town's sweetheart Day Zero deal - Biz Community, 8 May 2020

South Africa: Coca-Cola and Cape Town's Sweetheart Day Zero Deal - AllAfrica, 8 May 2020


Big business guzzled water

Big business guzzled water as Cape Town’s dam levels plummeted - Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism, 29 October 2020


Effluent crisis

Poorly treated effluent sends refinery water use skyrocketing - Center for Collaborative Investigative Journalism, 10 November 2020

Green Scorpions order City of Cape Town to sort out pollution in the Milnerton Lagoon - GroundUp, 4 November 2020

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