Cape Town, one of South Africa’s major cities, is on the verge of running out of water supplies following an unprecedented drought that has ravaged the city. Water rationing has been scaled to some extreme levels as the city is only left with water for less than 90 days in its reservoirs.
If the situation remains dire, and is not solved, Cape Town’s taps will ultimately dry up. It is a ferocious race against time, and if this day is to come, it will be called “Day Zero”. Residents are taking drastic measures such as recycling bathing water, flushing the toilet when it’s only necessary and taking short showers.
Day Zero (April 22) is no longer a remote possibility with how the grave predicament is taking its toll on the tourist destination. The city authorities are now in a scramble to build desalinization plants and underground water wells.
A situation where people will have to line up for getting water supplies is seemingly becoming more and more realistic. Residents will have to go to one of some 200 municipal water points throughout the city where they can collect a maximum of 25 liters (6.6 gallons) a day. Armed guards will be standing by to keep the peace and prevent anyone from taking more than their share. Of course, the truly wealthy will be protected.
Errant, less frequent rains, a complete antithesis to the good water supplies that the city has been enjoying for centuries; combined with the city’s ever-growing population chiefly contribute to this malaise. The capped household water usage is now standing at 87 litres, with those who do not adhere to this facing fines. According to city statistics, only 54% of residents are hitting their target, one of the reasons why Day Zero was moved forward a week earlier this year. Not enough measures are there in place to ensure everyone complies, meaning everyone will have to pay the price.
Authorities want to reduce the city’s consumption to 500 million litres a day — half the amount used two years ago. This means car washing, topping up swimming pools and using potable water to irrigate gardens has been banned.
This is somehow a bleak preview of what the new normal may become. With how climate change is rearing its ugly head, the situation is less likely to improve in the coming years.