Cape Town moves closer to a full water crisis

Cape TownResidents fill containers with water at a source for natural spring water in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. South Africa's drought-hit city of Cape Town introduced new water restrictions in an attempt to avoid what it calls "Day Zero," the day in mid-April when it might have to turn off most taps. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Cape Town is approaching “day zero” as the water supply in the South African city due to drought and extreme water shortages.


-“Before, I used two boilers with water for washing up, now I only use one boiler,” says Vuyo Kazi, who lives in one of the city’s slums.

The authorities in Cape Town have urged residents to save on water. On February 1, new water regulations were introduced, and the inhabitants are now only allowed to use 50 liters of water per day.

The use of the city’s drinking water to wash cars and streets, fill swimming pools and watering gardens is prohibited. Those who violate the ban will be punished with fines.

Collection buckets
A resident of the district of Scarborough explains water rationing in practice:

“We have had a limited amount of water to use every day. So we collect that water,” says Kelson da Cruz, showing a bucket he has in the bathroom.

“This water can be used to flush the toilet,” he says. “Another bucket contains water for brushing teeth and washing hands and face.”

Despite the measures, the city’s water reservoirs can be emptied. The authorities have long warned against “day zero” when they may be forced to cut water supply to large parts of the city.

The latest calculations indicate that this may happen on April 16, writes newspaper The Guardian.

Many years of drought and an increasing population have contributed to the water crisis. Experts believe the drought is partly due to climate change. The city is still dependent on its reservoirs, and projects such as the construction of seawater desalination plants are still well in the future.

The researchers are now following how the authorities will tackle the situation, since Cape Town can become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

The major social divisions in South Africa is one of the countries of the world where the differences between rich and poor are greatest, and are also evident in the water crisis.

Kirsty Carden from the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town points out that the city’s suburbs, characterized by lush surroundings, have a particularly high water consumption.

“People have gardens, they have a swimming pools and waste more water because they are used to the fact that there is always water in thier faucets,” she says.

Public water access
Some seem to curb consumption well, but Carden says there are problems in some affluent neighborhoods where people just think “we pay for it.”

About a quarter of Cape Town’s population lives in slums where there is no water and people get what they need from public water access points.

“There are pictures of public water access points, springs where the water is leaking and of broken pipes, and people say ‘look at the leaks, the waste.’ But in reality, one million people of a population of four million only use 4.5 percent of the water,” said Carden.


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