An unprecedented drought in South Africa is causing an imminent shortage of water. Officials estimate that the taps will run dry by 12 April 2018 (Day Zero). Cape Town’s reservoirs have less than 90 days’ of water left. Rationing has been introduced. the four million residents have been asked to restrict their water usage to 87 litres per person per day. This means car washing, topping up swimming pools and using potable water to irrigate gardens has been banned. Hotels have drained their swimming pools and removed bath plugs.
The drought has been caused by very low rainfall over the past few years and increased water consumption by the city’s growing population.
Now, further news from the Times states that Cape Town has pleaded with the South African government to declare a national disaster as it faces the prospect of becoming the first modern city in the world to run out of water.
To put South Africa’s crisis in context, Canadians use around 329 litres of water a day. And the average Canadian uses about 65 per cent of it in their bathrooms, according to Environment Canada.
Presumably, the drought in South Africa is yet another effect of the climate change that is being experienced in different ways across the globe.
Cape Town residents fill water bottles and containers at a local spring
Meanwhile, in France, the capital is in flood, with many being evacuated from their homes as a result of the River Seine bursting its banks. The New York Times headlines this story with the statement, “Floods leave Paris contemplating a wetter future”. See: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/world/europe/france-paris-floods.html
A flooded park on Ile de la Cite, Paris
Clearly, a result of climate change and the unstable weather patterns throughout the world, South Africa experiencing drought, whilst much of Europe is experiencing extremes of rain and snow.
April 2018 According to reports, Day Zero (12th April) has been deferred to August but restrictions on water usage are still in place at 50 litres per person per day.
May 2018 Greenpeace have reported that “Cape Town’s water shortage crisis has been averted (at least until 2019). Caused by a mixture of climate change, poor infrastructure and politicking, the city came dangerously close to ‘day zero’, that is, running completely dry. But welcome rains and some human efforts (including the mayor shaming water wasters) pulled it back in the nick of time”.