Cape Town’s “Day Zero” Approaches
The city’s six major reservoirs are expected, by late April, to run dry on “Day Zero.” For months, local authorities encouraged residents to cut water consumption.
Although some Cape Town residents have complied–34 percent use less than 87 liters each day–many households continue to flout the water restrictions.
Last week, water use jumped to 641 million liters, up from 628 million liters the week before.
In response, the city is considering jail time for heavy water users.
Following the spike in water use, city officials announced that the estimate for Day Zero is being moved forward to April 29, 2018.
The date is based on the city’s 500 million liters per day target, plus the addition of 196 million liters per day after February 1, which will come from a variety of water-yielding projects that the government is putting in place.
The Western Cape is South Africa’s only province run by the Democratic Alliance; the ruling African National Congress controls the rest of the country.
Water Crisis Politics In 2007, South Africa’s national Department of Water and Sanitation warned Cape Town that it would need new water sources by 2015, based on normal rainfall and rising demand.
In 2015, the national government allocated 60 percent of the Western Cape’s water to Cape Town and most of the remaining 40 percent to agriculture, even as reservoir levels began to falter.
The national government, on the other hand, has criticized Cape Town’s local government for its lack of adequate preparation.