Cape Town Water Crisis


Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

The bustling metropolitan of Cape Town has been in a drought for about three years. This long-lasting lack of water has led the city to a grave situation. Their reservoirs are running out of water, thus limiting the usage of water to just 13.2 gallons or 50 liters per resident. However, it is possible that this situation will worsen because of climate change, the increasing population, and the fact that 55% of the population is not obeying the strict water rules. If no rain comes, Cape Town will become the first major city in the world to run out of water.

Typically, winter brings rain to Cape Town. However, because of severe changes in weather and climate, the pressure in this area had been unusually high, thus leading to the worst drought the area had ever encountered. As the situation worsens, the city is now working to improve its water supply by hurrying to build desalination, aquifer, and water-recycling projects to add to the current supply. However, the population needs to help out too. This includes taking 90 second showers, using one toilet flush, and only giving their canine friends one bowl of water.

It has been predicted that the city of four million people will approach Day Zero, or the day where the city will finally run out of water, at May 14. As reservoirs can’t be used up to the very last drop, because silt and debris contaminate the last 10% of water reservoirs, the city will shut off water taps except for essential services like hospitals. This will force citizens to be rationed to about 25 gallons of water which they could only collect from one of local water stations. These stations would be attended by armed guards to keep peace and to prevent anyone from taking more than they can.

As the clock down inches closer, thousands of Capetonians have taken measures to preserve as much water as they can. Citizens are stockpiling liters of water and buying water tanks. “People were already rushing in and out of the shop to buy water. Some actually went in several times as we were only allowed to buy five boxes at a time,” stated Capetonian Adele van der Spuy to CNN. Also, the local version of Craigslist is already filled with listings for companies willing to bring in tanks of water from less drought-ridden parts of the country. And Capetonian Facebook pages and websites are posting articles on how to prepare for Day Zero.

The fate of Cape Town is frightening, as it threatens the health and livelihood of the millions of people living there. As the air in Cape Town’s sky continues to be dry, Capetonians are now forced to follow the “let it mellow” rule for toilets, use less than an inch for baths, and reuse grey water from washing machines to use on the garden and flush toilets.

“This is the new normal for Cape Town,” stated Raymond Joseph, a journalist for South African newspapers, in an opinion article for CNN. “It is also a timely warning for people living elsewhere in the world to preserve and use the water they have sparingly before they, too, face their own Day Zero.”

Photo courtesy of YOUTUBE.COM