What It’s Like to Live Through Cape Town’s Massive Water Crisis

Capetonians collect water from the Kalk Bay spring on Feb. 1; at some springs, waits can drag on for hours.
That was on Feb. 1, just after the mayor’s office here in Cape Town announced new water restrictions.
Mikhael Subotzky—Magnum Photos for TIME Millions of people around the world live without sufficient access to water.
Cape Town running out of water is like San Diego going dry.
An even grimmer scenario now looms: Day Zero, when the government will turn off the taps for most homes and businesses in the city to conserve the very last supplies.
The looming shutdown has prompted chaos, with a run not only on bottled water but also on water tanks and jerricans.
Cape Town may be the first major city to run out of water, but it won’t be the last.
In Mexico City, residents are already experiencing cuts to their piped water supply, and officials in Melbourne (another city affected by drought) warn that the city is little more than a decade away from exhausting current water supplies.
Many township residents already line up at a central tap to get their daily water supply.
But once the taps run dry, we won’t even have that.

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