Cape Town to run out of water in less than 100 days
Cape Town City Cape Town City
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The city of Cape Town, South Africa is set to be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Usually fed fresh water from heavy rainfalls in the nearby Table Mountain, Cape Town is now in its third year of drought and is expected to reach 'day zero' in April 2018. 'Day zero' will occur when their dams drop to below 13.5% of capacity.


If this happens then all non-emergency water supplies will be cut and residents will be required to source their water from collection stations with armed guards in position. Each resident will be allowed 25 litres per day. Currently, there is a limit 87 litres per person per day in place and the government has made a live water monitoring map of properties so as to promote a peer-based 'encouragement' of good water habits. This was a controversial move but the government maintains that the benefits of the system outway any privacy-related concerns.


Whilst the government has begun construction on 3 desalinisation plants which they hope will be operational by March 2018, the embattled Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille has taken the surprising action of shutting down the Drought Crisis Team which was created last year. She now holds daily 'water talks' in which she chairs. The Mayor is also facing allegations of irregular spending on an unrelated matter, and residents are said to be in disbelief that the water crisis has come to this point.


Cape Town has been able to reduce its daily water usage by 60 million litres per day, and being seen in public with un-washed hair is now seen as a symbol of being a responsible citizen. The water crisis will no doubt affect Cape Towns tourism trade which is a significant part of its economy. There is also serious concerns about the increase in disease in the area as sanitation becomes a secondary consideration to having enough water to drink.


cape water crisis

A major dam near Cape Town. Photo credit: Adam Spies, courtesy .


Along with local climate trends, global warming has been attributed to the cause of the Cape Town drought with hotter weather being recorded in many parts of the world. With increasing temperatures in Australia, the CSIRO's model predicts that even a 1-2 degree increase in Australia average temperatures could reduce flow in the Murray River by 12-25% and reduce Melbournes water supply 7-35%. Fortunately, most drought-prone states have invested in desalinisation plants, but they do produce salt waste and are energy intensive. Hopefully, as our technology improves, so will our ability to provide clean water for our population and agriculture in the future.


Content sourced from;,,, and, CSIRO,



Last modified on Wednesday, 31 January 2018 13:54

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