Cape Town heads towards ‘Day Zero’ as its drought worsens

Nick Myall
Thursday 25 Jan 2018

The coastal city of Cape Town in South Africa urgently needs to control water usage as cities across the globe deal with effects of climate change and its growing influence on urban design

Cape Town, in the Western Cape of South Africa, has issued new water restrictions as the city comes close to completely running out of water. Cape Town officials anticipate the city’s water supply will possibly cut off due to drought on April 12 — otherwise known as “Day Zero.”

Residents of the South African city have been partaking in massive water saving measures but the Mayor of the city Patricia de Lille, has said some people are “callously” using more than their current limit.

“We have reached a point of no return. Despite our urging for months, 60 percent of Capetonians are callously using more than 87 litres per day,” de Lille said last week.

According to Fox News, residents must use no more than 50 litres of water a day from Feb. 1, and the city plans to fine households that use too much water.

"We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them," the mayor said.

The original “Day Zero” was scheduled for April 21, but “due to a drop in the dam levels of 1.4%, Day Zero has, as of today, moved forward to 12 April 2018,” Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said Tuesday, according to News24.

Many areas of the world are now starting to feel the effects of climate change, including droughts, with the very real threat of some areas becoming uninhabitable as water shortages and forest fires worsen. The design of our urban areas needs to adapt to these new circumstances with solutions such as green roofs and methods of collecting and storing rainwater run-off becoming more commonplace.

Cape Town, a major tourist destination and a city of 3.7 million people, has assessed 200 water collection points for residents as it prepares for the possible cutoff date. Experts link the city's water shortages to factors including climate change and high population growth and long-term solutions to these issues are urgently required.  

The C40 cities project is looking for vibrant innovative solutions to the environmental challenges facing our cities. There are 19 participating cities with 49 sites including Cape Town.  

More information on the Reinventing Cities competition, eligibility criteria and the project sites in each city can be found at http://www.c40reinventingcities.org/ 

The deadline for expression of interest is May 4th 2018.

Nick Myall

News editor

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