A three year drought forces Cape Town to limit water consumption
Feb. 23 update: According to CNN, because of a decline in agricultural water use, Day Zero has been pushed back to July 9.
After three years of droughts, Cape Town, South Africa, has set Day Zero—the day the town runs out of water—for April 16, 2018. Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water if rain does not refill the dwindling dams soon.
The city’s main water source, the Voëlvlei Dam, is at less than 20% capacity and quickly shrinking, according to CBS News. Currently, each Cape Town resident is only allowed 50 litres of water per day, cut from the previous 87 litre standard.
Once Day Zero arrives, the city will shut off taps city-wide except at essential locations such as hospitals. Residents will be forced to queue for their daily water ration of 25 litres per day, city officials have warned. Officials are urging residents to cut back their water consumption—every single drop of water is precious.
The city is hurrying to find alternate solutions such as recycling wastewater and using aquifers to extract groundwater, reported Newsweek. However, even heavy rains will not divert the crisis for long. The ever increasing annual temperatures in Cape Town mean that any water accumulation will quickly become subject to evaporation. Now more than ever, water conservation and alternative water sources are essential.
“Climate change is a reality and we cannot depend on rainwater alone to fill our dams, but must look at alternative sources like desalination and underground aquifers,” said Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille.