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The grass at Spier wine estate is so green no visitor would believe Cape Town is experiencing the worst drought in living memory and that residents are stockpiling water in anticipation of Day Zero — when suburban taps will be switched off. Tour operators cheered last month when Spier general manager Joep Schoof announced that in about two months the estate will be completely independent of the municipal water supply. As the crisis has intensified over the past year, the Western Cape tourism industry — which employs 300,000 people and contributes R40bn to the province’s GDP — has been forced to implement innovative water-saving initiatives. Jeff Rosenberg, the Cape chairman of the Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa), says many member establishments have saved up to 40% of their annual water usage. Spier, which has recycled all its grey and black water since 2007, has spent R4m over the past 18 months to cover the risk of having its taps turned off by the c...

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