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Cape Town's water crisis got so bad last year that there were competitions to see who could wash their shirts the least. Restaurants and businesses were encouraging people not to flush after going to the toilet. The city was just 90 days away from turning off the taps.
WWF - SA
A city united<p>In a dry climate, with rapid urbanization and relatively high per capita water consumption, Cape Town had all the makings of a water crisis. In 2018, after three years of poor rainfall, the city announced drastic action was needed to avoid running out.</p><p>Reducing demand was a key priority. The City of Cape Town worked to get residents and businesses on board with a host of water-saving initiatives. People were instructed to shower for no longer than two minutes. A campaign with the slogan "If it's yellow, let it mellow" promoted flushing the toilet only when necessary. And the <a href="https://resource.capetown.gov.za/documentcentre/Documents/Graphics%20and%20educational%20material/Safe%20Use%20of%20Greywater%20booklet.pdf" target="_blank">use of recycled water</a> — so-called grey water — was also pushed.</p><p>At the most extreme, residents were restricted to a maximum of 50 liters a day – not easy when showers alone can use up to <a href="http://www.waterwise.co.za/export/sites/water-wise/downloads/water/WaterWise_How_Much_Water_Does_Your_Family_Use.pdf" target="_blank">15 liters a minute.</a> Backed up with data on each <a href="http://www.capetown.gov.za/Family%20and%20home/Residential-utility-services/Residential-water-and-sanitation-services/cape-town-water-map" target="_blank">household's water use</a>, people pulled together, sharing tips on social media.</p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTA2MTUzMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDc2NjY5N30.HJTuIjLSnEGdG4yvvcTbV0rLhrgkTbNtv1Wp8hZcaGw/img.jpg?width=980" id="31300" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4c74a52da5fdf5dc6ad9992a401c67df" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
WWF - SA
Restricted supply<p>The City of Cape Town introduced increasingly strict restrictions, which as well as limiting the volumes allowed, also restricted what the water was used for. Filling <a href="https://www.capetownetc.com/water-crisis/cape-town-water-crisis-guide-50-litres/" target="_blank">swimming pools</a>, washing cars, and fountains were all banned.</p><p>Households using high volumes of water faced big fines. The city also significantly hiked tariffs as well as rolling out management devices, which set a daily limit on the water supply to properties.</p><p>Another method of curbing use saw the city reduce the water pressure, which both cut overall consumption as well as decreased the loss through leaks.</p><p>Alongside measures targeted at domestic use, Cape Town also called on the agricultural and commercial sectors. Hard limits on <a href="https://mg.co.za/article/2018-02-05-day-zero-pushed-back-to-may-11" target="_blank">agricultural water quotas</a> were introduced.</p>
Crisis averted … for now<p>By changing a city's habits, along with the welcome return of some rain, Cape Town managed to avert the worst of the water scarcity crisis. However, the risk of future shortages remain. South Africa is one of the world's driest countries and <a href="https://issafrica.s3.amazonaws.com/site/uploads/sar13-2.pdf" target="_blank">demand for water continues to climb</a>.</p><img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMTA2MTUzNC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTA1OTY5NX0.9h_q9VwipAXBlnmzNXIjIvnbWHJDPldEs-eod_wTAys/img.png?width=980" id="cea0d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f39c188ea94fcc243f4e27caf434c96b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
WWF - SA
- Cape Town Pushes Back 'Day Zero' - EcoWatch ›
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The world is watching as Cape Town residents count the days (and drops) to Day Zero—when the city's tap run dry. The South African city is in the midst of its worst drought in history, and unless a substantial amount of rain falls in the coming months, it could become the first major city to run dry. Poorer citizens are already bearing the brunt of the water crisis, and all residents have been advised to limit their water consumption to only 50 liters, or 13.2 gallons a day. Think two-minute showers and reusing your bathing water to flush the toilet.
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By Veronica Herrera
When Cape Town acknowledged in February that it would run out of water within months, South Africa suddenly became the global poster child for bad water management. Newspapers revealed that the federal government had been slow to respond to the city's three-year drought because the mayor belongs to an opposition party.
By Betsy Otto and Leah Schleifer
Cape Town is running out of water. After three years of intense drought, South Africa's second-largest city is just a few months away from "Day Zero," the day when the city government will shut off water taps for most homes and businesses.
“Day Zero," the day drought-stricken Cape Town, South Africa is projected to run out of municipal water, has been moved to mid-May 2018 following a decline in agricultural usage, according to a statement from Alderman Ian Neilson, the city's executive deputy mayor. Day Zero was previously projected to fall on April 16.
Capetonians, however, were urged to continue reducing consumption as "there has not been any significant decline in urban usage," Neilson said. The city's four million residents must continue to use no more than 50 liters of water per person per day.
Dam levels fell to 26 percent capacity on Wednesday, compared to 26.3 percent on Monday and 26.6 percent last week. Once the dams reach 13.5 percent, the municipal water supply shuts off for all but essential services, such as hospitals and key commercial areas.
Cape Town: Three months to Day Zero? SkyPixels / Wikimedia Commons
By Alex Kirby
Water scarcity is now a real threat in two developing countries at the forefront of efforts to reduce climate change, India and South Africa.
This is not the tragically familiar story of extreme weather, stunted crops and foreshortened lives. It is a different sort of threat: to urban life, to industrial development and to attempts to end poverty.
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.