Cape Town is Experiencing a Water Crisis

Officials in Cape Town, South Africa recently announced that Day Zero has been pushed back from early April to July. According to the City of Cape Town website, Day Zero is the day that the city’s water supply will be turned off; the water supply will be shut off once the city’s dams reach 13.5%. Once Day Zero has been reached, citizens will have to travel to one of the 200 water collection points to wait in line for their water supply. However, this postponement of the dreaded day shows the diligence Capetonians have shown to reduce their water consumption in this uncertain time.

Currently, the citizens of Cape Town are advised to use 50 liters of water or less every day, this converts to about 13.2 gallons daily. Government officials have issued posters that suggest how citizens should use their 50 liters of water. Citizens have altered all aspects of their lives to reduce their water consumption including their cooking, hygiene and cleaning habits. Toilets have been rigged so that they do not use water, hand sanitizer has replaced water and soap, hair goes longer without being washed and bathing has resorted to sponge baths and stop and start showers. This means that the water is turned off during portions of the showering process. Water is not wasted either. Containers catch water from leaky faucets, grey water; water that has already been used once provides water to flush toilets and rainwater is collected. Citizens are not alone in their efforts to conserve water. Businesses and the agriculture industry have also been advised by government officials to reduce their water use. Businesses should be consuming 45% less water than they were prior to the drought and agriculture needs to reduce theirs to 60% less water.

Courtesy: Vox

The shortage of water is the result of a severe drought that Cape Town has been experiencing for years. According to officials, the National Department of Water and Sanitation predicts that a severe drought will occur once every 50 years. However, the current drought is significantly worse than any drought that the department has prepared for. CNN also reports that the dry season is the result of two additional factors which are climate change and a growing population in an already populous city. Cape Town is one of the most populous cities in South Africa.

For now, all the people of Cape Town can do is continue to cut down on their consumption of water as they wait for the rain to come. Cape Town government officials have continued to urge their citizens to conserve water because Day Zero literally depends on the efforts of the people. Day Zero could be pushed back up to an earlier date if citizens revert to using more water than necessary.