Cape Town, a city seated beneath the Table Mountain and was once a haven of abundant natural water may just become the first major city in the world to run out of water as a result of three years of low rainfall and a growing population and an increase in water consumption.
Levels in its water-supplying dams are so low, experts have predicted that the city will reach “day zero”, where dams will drop below 13.5 percent of their total capacity on April 21. The government has also advised residents to reduce consumption.
As it stands, Cape Town’s average daily collective consumption is still too high. It has increased to 618 million litres per day, up from 578 million litres. For each day that Cape Town uses more than 500 million litres, the city moves closer to “day zero”.
If that happens, taps in the city will be turned off except for essential services such as supply to hospitals and residents will have to queue for 25 litres of water per day from one of the 200 available collection sites.
The only way the city can avoid “day zero” is if residents, currently at four million, save water. Residents have been told to keep their showers under two minutes, reduce the usage of washing machines, and have been banned from filling swimming pools and watering gardens.
In what many would call controversial, Cape Town has made a live water-monitoring map that shows how much water people are using in order to encourage or shame them into emulating their neighbors’ good habits.
Regional residents have expressed astonishment and fear over the coming crisis. Some have protested, according to News24, what they believe was a failure by the Cape Town government to address the problem, all amidst a growing corruption scandal concerning the Cape Town mayor.
The city also has a couple of projects lined up to supplement water supplies, including desalination plants, water recycling and drilling into the earth’s natural underground reservoir with hopes of getting them up and running by March, EWN reports.
While these projects will help bring some much needed water security, it is up to every resident to play their part to do all they can to save water and for the rest of the world to pay more attention to climate change and its implications.