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Cape Town: The Day Zero is not far off!

Swapna Mohanty | Updated on: 3 February 2018, 16:17 IST

Cape Town, the coastal city in South Africa situated in the shore of Table Bay, is the first city in the modern times running out of water. It is expected that by April 12, 2018, the continuing water crisis would reach the stage of a full-swing-disaster as the taps and reservoirs supplying the city would run dry.

Curiously enough, the visiting Indian cricket team had a first- hand experience of the crisis looming ahead. The members of the Indian cricket team who were in CT in January for 12-Test Overseas Challenge were asked not spend more than two-minutes in shower and follow other rules that tourists and locals are made to follow. Besides, favorite tourist destinations have sign boards and warning boards like ' Don't flush this toilet', 'Our taps will run dry if we don’t act now'.

Why such a situation arose

Preparation for ‘Day Zero’

Present Situation

It is expected that on April 12 next the average level of all reservoirs serving the city would fall below 13.5 per cent.
The daily water usage has been cut from 87 litres to 50 litres and on 'Zero day' the residents would be left with no water in their homes to drink, wash or bathe.

The government has already restricted the usage of city water in washing vehicles, private swimming pools and gardens.
Looking at the upcoming devastation the Cape Town’s hospitality industry leaders have urged hotels to prefer salt water over freshwater in swimming pools. Restaurants are asked to offer foods which do not require much water for preparation.

A dam that is drying up

Another very important reason behind this is Theewaterskloof Dam. This dam was established in 1978 and is believed to be the backbone of the Western Cape Water Supply System. It has a capacity of 480 million cubic meters, approximately 41% of the city’s total water storage capacity. However, over the years there has been a steady decrease in the level in the dam which has led to the present drought condition.

The Paradox of Land Title Distribution

While all of the country was on an alert Cape Town’s Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille warned citizens and visitors on January 24, 2018 that the city was “very likely” to run out of water in April. It might appear weird but Lille during this period handed over more than 11,000 title deeds to residents.

In a few tweet recently Lille said, “We continue to address the historic backlog to ensure that no one is without their title deed. We will do road shows across the city over the next few months where residents can inquire about their title deeds and collect it.” She also tweeted, 'This is the continuation of the work we started during the 2011-2016 term of office where more than 11 000 title deeds were handed to the rightful property owners.”
Amidst this kind of populism the world is looking anxiously on this port city of South Africa as to how it will handle one of its gravest environmental crises.

First published: 3 February 2018, 16:17 IST