Cape Town Runs Dry

‘Day Zero’ sounds ominous and for Cape Town residents it is. That’s the day when dam levels in the city’s reservoirs reach 13.5%; at which point the city’s water authorities will turn most taps off.

On that day, Cape Town will become – officially – the first major city in the world to run out of water.

And Day zero is not very far away. In fact its April 22nd, which is just a few weeks. In an effort to conserve water and so push Day Zero back, the authorities are urging residents to ‘paint Cape Town green’. This initiative includes publishing a water map and providing advice on ways to conserve water. It’s hoped that residents (the residential sector uses approximately 65% of the city’s water allocation) can be encouraged to bring their water usage down to just 87 litres per person per day.

Thankfully, according to local media reports, ‘wealthy tourists’ are joining in and heeding their hotel’s requests to save water too. Some hotels are not giving them an option and are removing bath plugs from bedrooms so the guests can only take showers – which have been fitted with low-flow shower heads.

Is this a vision of what’s to come we wonder? Attracting wealthy tourists comes at a cost and one of those costs is providing lots of water. (Think of all those new water parks and golf courses). But most emerging countries have not invested sufficiently in their water infrastructure and may now pay the price as a result.


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