'Day Zero' pushed back as Cape Town responds to water crisis

Glen Norman
February 9, 2018

Day zero is now forecast for 11 May, which is nearly a month later than the forecast of 16 April last week.

Cape Town has pushed back "Day Zero" — the date when it might have to turn off most taps because of a long drought — by almost a month to May 11. Several farms in Western Cape province including the city have utilized water supplies provided to them.

Cape Town - With just about every shop in Cape Town selling more bottled water, concerns have been raised about what will happen to all the empty plastic bottles.

Municipal officials, however, say city residents must stick to regulations requiring them to use fewer than 50 liters (13.2 gallons) per person daily to avoid the tap closure. Moreover, according to the officials, seasonal rainfall that is expected to begin around May is expected to be low.

"The city of Cape Town could conceivably become the first major city to run out of water, and that could happen in the next four months, " Anthony Turton, who teaches at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, told the The New York Times. Flushing toilets and washing clothes also need to be carefully supervised to preserve water. Police are guarding some natural springs to avoid any scuffles over access to the increasingly precious liquid.

It is illegal to use the city's drinking water to wash vehicles, fill up private pools or hose down paved areas.

"I think the important thing to understand is that water is far too serious a matter to leave to the politicians".

"The crisis occurred due to increasing global water shortages, as well as increasingly poor sustainability and resilience in water supplies for cities". About a quarter of Cape Town's population lives in the informal settlements, where they get water from communal taps instead of individual spigots at home. The city's reservoirs have been dried by three straight years of drought.

Turton said the water crisis in the country could be alleviated if more effort was made to recycle and reuse water. Even the deepest aquifiers to the country's largest rivers are not going to prove helpful in extreme drought conditions. Agriculture deserved more water to enable more and better food production which would, in turn, create more jobs and export earnings.

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