Residents of the South African legislative capital of Cape Town are facing extreme water restrictions as the city’s water supply continues to dwindle during its worst drought of the century.
The drought, which is being referred to as the “Cape Town water crisis”, began in 2015 and has continued to plague the region ever since. It has been declared a national disaster for its magnitude and duration.
As one of the most prosperous metropolitan areas in South Africa, with a population of over four million and growing, Cape Town’s water shortage is undoubtedly being heightened by population growth, excessive water use, and the large tourist force in the region.
However, it seems that the largest factor influencing the drought is Cape Town’s climate change. The city has experienced hot, dry weather, lack of winter rains, and reduced stream flow.
The residents of Cape Town have had increasingly more demanding water restrictions imposed on them. The latest restriction limits each person to only 50 liters of water a day. An average American can use up to 100 gallons of water a day, nearly 380 liters, which is over 7.5 times the daily usage for Capetonians.
Cape Town now faces the threat of reaching “Day Zero”, which is the stage of drought where water is cut off from the tap, and water must be gathered from guarded water stations.
Water conservation efforts have greatly increased, with residents saving and reusing water as much as possible. Showers are restricted to once every three days and last only two minutes.
Slight improvements in water use reduction have pushed back the projection for Day Zero from April 12 to June 4. Various companies are investing money to secure water in the region. The South African fishing company, Oceana, is investing 20 million rand (1.7 million USD) towards the construction of a desalination plant.
The desalination plant will provide Oceana’s factory with water, allowing it to stay open, saving 2000 jobs. South African entertainment company, Tsogo Sun, is also building a desalination plant, hoping to provide its Cape Town hotels with water.
Though small changes are improving the water crisis, Cape Town needs to see drastic changes as Day Zero draws ever closer.