The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Will Cape Town Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water?
Cape Town is on track to become the first major city in the world to run out of water.
The world-renowned tourist destination—and the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg—could approach "Day Zero," when most taps run dry, by April 21, Mayor Patricia de Lille said Tuesday.
"Day Zero" may sound ominous, but it is an actual date based on current reservoir capacity and the current rate of consumption. The original projection was April 29, but the date has unfortunately been moved forward.
"Dam levels have dipped to 28.7 percent this past week—down by one percentage point," de Lille said. "The city has ramped up pressure management to drive down consumption—aiming to stretch our water supply past the winter rainy season."
As TIME reported, once the dams reach 13.5 percent capacity, the municipal water supply shuts off for all but essential services, such as hospitals.
De Lille further lamented that only 39 percent of Cape Town's 4 million residents used less than the 87 liters of water a day the city council has set as the individual limit.
According to de Lille, total water consumption has increased to 618 million liters per day‚ up from 578 million liters per day. The target is to cut water use to 500 million liters a day.
"Cape Town's average daily collective consumption is still too high," the mayor said.
To reduce water usage, the local government has banned residents from watering their gardens and washing their cars, shut most public swimming pools and cut the water pressure, according to Bloomberg. A cricket team was even advised not to shower for more than two minutes.
The city's water woes comes after three years of unprecedented drought and the growing population's increased water consumption.
However, as Bloomberg reported, even in a time of climate extremes, the severity of the Cape Town's water crisis is highly unusual.
"Running out of water in places that have a highly developed water infrastructure is not that common," Bob Scholes, a professor of systems ecology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. "I know of no example of a city the size of Cape Town running out of water. It would be quite catastrophic."
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.
By Kristy Dahl
Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.
Green is the new black at Zara.
The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.