Quantcast
Climate
Molteno Dam Reservoir in Cape Town. Wikimedia Commons

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."

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Adventure
"These are lands that have been stewarded by indigenous people for thousands of years, and now it's a responsibility of everyone to take that into consideration." @nativesoutdoors / Instagram

Posting Your Hike on Instagram? Now You Can Tag Your Location’s Indigenous Name

By Isabelle Morrison

Public spaces are for everyone, but how we perceive them and interact with them is contextual. Some activists are making their statements on the public canvas all around the world. And it's catching on.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Low water levels in Cape Town's Theewaterskloof dam could be a preview of climate-related droughts to come. Zaian / CC BY-SA 4.0

Groundbreaking Study Shows Limiting Warming to 1.5 Degrees Is Good for the Economy, Too

When politicians refuse to take action on climate change, they often use the economy as an excuse. President Donald Trump, for example, justified his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement in economic terms.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Reasons Getting USDA Organic Certification Is Really Difficult

As the only government-administered label that addresses farming practices, the organic emblem is vitally important. There literally is no other badge that carries as much weight. USDA certified organic-food sales topped $43 billion in 2016—emphasis on "USDA certified." Ask around at your local farmers market and you're likely to run into a few "all-but-certified" farms (for which there are no statistics). The reason? Organic certification is incredibly difficult. Here's why.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Taz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Reasons the World Wastes So Much Stuff (and Why It's Not Just the Consumer's Fault)

By Mathy Stanislaus

If you need motivation to skip the straw at lunch today, consider this: Scientists found that even Arctic sea ice—far removed from most major metropolitan areas—is no longer plastic-free. According to Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson of the British Antarctic Survey, "this suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world's ocean. Nowhere is immune."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Dr. Piers Sellers discussed Earth science with actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in April 2016. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

White House Considered Ignoring Climate Science, Internal Memo Reveals

The Trump administration debated whether it should attack or simply ignore federal research on climate change, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Terraced rice field in Yabu-shi, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. cotaro70s / CC BY-ND 2.0

High CO2 Levels Make Rice Less Nutritious, Study Finds

Research published Wednesday in Science Advances found that rice grown with the higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations expected by the end of this century was less nutritious, signaling bad news for the more than two billion people who rely on the grain as their primary food source, a University of Washington (UW) press release published in EurekAlert! Reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at World Bank Group headquarters during Trudeau's first official visit to Washington, DC in March 2016. Franz Mahr / World Bank / CC BY 2.0

236 Civil Society Groups to Justin Trudeau: 'The Time for Investment in New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Is Over'

By Andy Rowell

With just over a week to go until the May 31 deadline set by Kinder Morgan for the Canadian Government to resolve all financial and political issues surrounding its highly controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, some 236 civil society groups from 44 countries have written to Justin Trudeau to tell him to drop his support for the project.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline will triple the amount of dirty tar sands being shipped from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A grizzly bear at Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman, MT, a rescue and educational sanctuary. jerseygal2009 / CC BY-ND 2.0

Wyoming Votes to Allow First Grizzly Bear Hunt in 40 Years

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the largest grizzly bear hunt in the lower 48 states, despite opposition from environmental groups, tribal nations and wildlife photographers, The Washington Post reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!