For three long years, the city of Cape Town has battled a devastating drought. Now, in less than 100 days, it may become the first major city in the world to run out of water. South African authorities have asked citizens to conserve the precious resource to prevent “Day Zero” from arriving by April 21, 2018.
Due to a lack of rain, Cape Town’s 3.7 million residents have been asked to drastically cut their water consumption. Suggested methods include taking shorter showers (or following the stop-start protocol), not washing cars, and flushing toilets as little as possible. If residents do not change their habits, their taps could be shut off in less than 95 days.
The city of Cape Town announced in a statement: “There are only 95 days left before we reach Day Zero. Day Zero has moved a day closer this week to April 21, 2018. Day Zero is when the City will be forced to turn off most of the taps.”
The statement added that only 39 percent of Cape Town residents used less than 87 liters of water per person per day last week, compared to 54 percent of residents during the first week of January. As a result, the city’s collective consumption of water is too high, having increased to 618 million liters per day from 578 million liters per day.
“Dam levels have dipped to 28,7% percent this past week – down by one percentage point,” the statement read. “Only about 18,7% of this water is usable as the last 10% is difficult to abstract from the dams.”
If the city fails to conserve water and secure alternative sources, residents will be forced to subsist on a daily ration of water, no more than 25 liters (5.5 gallons). The resource will be available for collection at numerous government-organized outposts around Cape Town.
Tweeted Cape Town’s mayor, Patricia de Lille: “I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 liters [19 gallons] per day… We must avoid Day Zero and saving water is the only way we can do this.”
Several factors are exacerbating the drought conditions in Cape Town. They include climate change, poor city management, and a growing urban population. All of these will need to be addressed as Cape Town takes action to conserve resources. One of the city’s other plans is to implement a “drought charge,” which will fund projects such as destination plants.
Though Cape Town, South Africa, may be the first major city to run out of water, it isn’t likely to be the last. Unless the majority of humans adopt sustainable change, reduce their use of non-renewable resources, and “be the change” they want to see, environmental disasters such as this one will become more common.
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Image Credit: Hamza Butt, Flickr