April 12th: The Day Cape Town Is Expected To Run Out Of Water.
After years of historically low rainfall, Cape Town is now expected to run out of water on April 12th – a date that has been dubbed Day Zero. It now has plans in place to close its pipe network and assign 200 water collection points as soon as dam levels hit 13.5 per cent.
According to The Week, from that point on, the four million people who live in the city will be allocated 25 litres of water a day each. To put this in perspective, here in the UK residents use on average 150 litres of water a day each. Distribution will closed to the majority of the city, apart from institutions like hospitals and major commercial areas.
Residents have already begun stockpiling water, some from natural springs. But the water and sanitation department has come out and said that it is now investigating reports that some retailers are illegally selling tap water, after residents were spotted queuing up at shopping centres with empty bottles.
The water shortages are being put down to the drop in rainfall and 20 years of population growth. The worst drought on record has been going in for the last three years but the population of Cape Town has risen by nearly 80 per cent since 1995 – with a current population of around 4.3 million.
Reservoirs are also apparently draining quicker than anticipated because businesses and households failed to conserve enough water during the summer. Reports from the country’s Independent Online suggest that many people in the city are now in “full panic mode”, but this still hasn’t resulted in increased water conservation.
Guidelines have been issued to residents, however, to help them reduce their water usage, including fixing water leaks, only flushing the loo when necessary and spending less time in the shower.
It’s worth noting that the water supply in the city is dictated in large part by changes in the seasons and it’s expected that many of the current issues will be alleviated during winter, which takes place between May and August.
But lecturer in environmental and geographical sciences at Cape Town University Kevin Winter told website GroundUp that it’s important the “current water crisis in Cape Town shouldn’t be treated as a short-term occurrence, but rather as a long-term problem” that has been created because of climate change.
In 2016, the Guardian looked into the most water-stressed cities around the world and suggested that Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, might well have the honour of claiming this dubious title. Apparently, just 48 per cent of the 2.2 million people who live in the city receive piped water and the rest comes from tankers – up to ten times more expensive.
Approximately 60 per cent of water is lost through leaks and the city is also home to the most over-stressed aquifer in the world – the Arabian Aquifer System. As such, it’s possible that we may well hear more about Sana’a in the weeks and months ahead.
If you’d like to find out more about commercial water conservation, call the H2O team today.