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Drought in Cape Town worsens

Cape Town could become first major city in the world to run out of water

The mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, has warned possible visitors and citizens that the city is now ‘very likely’ to run out of water in April. After a two year long drought in South Africa that has seen rain at roughly one-third of the normal levels, the reservoirs that supply the city with water are running dry.

Credit: The Voice of the Cape

There have been calls asking Cape Town citizens to limit individual consumption to 87 litres per day. The authorities have said that these calls have been ignored by three-fifths of the people living in greater Cape Town – which is home to 3.7 million people. The mayor said “it is quite unbelievable that the majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero.” ‘Day Zero’ is the name given to the day that the city will run dry. This was initially set to be on April 21st but has now been pushed forward to April 12th.

The city council stated that “Day Zero is the day that almost all of the taps in the city will be turned off and we will have to queue for water.” Dealing with this water shortage is becoming a daily struggle for both locals and tourists. The water pressure has also been reduced to limit consumption and water leaks. On top of this cuts to the supply are becoming far more common.

A British visitor to Cape Town named Alistair Coy has been shedding light on the situation via a series of tweets. These tweets include both videos and pictures of Theewaterskloof, the city’s largest dam. One of the Brit’s tweets said “the situation in Cape Town is now beyond critical and I believe that Day Zero will arrive before April 12th.” He also tweeted a picture of the three buckets of water which he had had to save to reuse.

A statement from South African Tourism said “to counter the short-term effects of the drought, the city has put in place a number of initiatives to increase the supply of water and make provisions for water shortages for locals and visitors.”

The plans for a controversial drought charge have been dropped. The city has instead decided that the council will take a vote on measures to apply a punitive tariff. This will increase water bills five-fold for those who use least. While those who use the most will have to pay 140 times as much for each litre of water.

Amidst this drought, a black market for drinking water is forming. Jamie Bowden, a visitor from the UK said that he “went to a warehouse that stocks large plastic water containers and the place is being stripped everyday.” With many ignoring the warnings and a black market developing, the date for Day Zero may soon change again.

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