Monday, 5 February 2018

A DUMMIES GUIDE TO DAY ZERO AND CAPE TOWN'S WATER CRISIS

UPDATE: DAY ZERO has been moved to 11 May due to more people, farms in particular, following the water restrictions. YAY! This is amazing news because Cape Town's rainy season starts in the winter months (June, July, August) and this will hopefully mean the rainy season starts in time. There is, however, no certainty around whether Cape Town will actually receive enough rainfall during the "rainy season" to make up for the 3 year drought.



I hated geography in high school. No, like really hated it. Geography class made me want to jump off the nearest bridge (My geo class was on the 4th floor so I might as well have jumped out the window tbh).


So I was one of the many that didn't initially take the Cape Town water shortage too seriously. I mean, if the city has had enough water all these years, what's the big deal? And cities don't just run out of water. It just didn't seem likely. But, boy, was I wrong.

As we all should realize by now, the Cape Town water crisis is so REAL. It can end up being the first major city in the world to run out of water

WHAT'S CAUSING CAPE TOWN'S WATER CRISIS?

  • POPULATION GROWTH
Cape Town's population is 4.3 million this year, an increase of 79% since 1995. While dam storage has only increased by 15%. 
  • DROUGHT
The definition of DROUGHT that I remember from my grade 12 textbook is "when an area received less than 75% of its normal rainfall". I found it difficult to find statistics on Cape Town's rainfall to test whether this is actually true.

According to this graph Cape Town's rainfall average would be around 1000 mm/year while the rainfall in 2016/2017 was 600 mm/year. Turns out geography actually proved to be useful in real life!

Apart from that, it's definitely evident that Cape Town is in drought just by looking at the state of the dams - many dams are already dried up. 
  • CLIMATE CHANGE DUE TO GLOBAL WARMING
This is a bit of a controversial one politically. For this case, let's ignore Trump's opinions on global warming. In terms of this, the periods between droughts, when the city actually gets decent rainfall, are getting shorter, meaning that the city doesn't have enough time to recover from a previous drought before the next one comes up. And another problem is that rainfall tends to come later in the year and not last as long. 





WHAT IS DAY ZERO?


Day Zero is a term coined for when taps would be turned off to residential suburbs due to water levels reaching a 13.5% capacity in the city's six dam-reservoir systems.  After this, residents will have to fetch water from the over 200 collection points in the city (The logistics for this are still being worked out) and water usage will be limited to just 25 liters per person.

Day zero is currently forecast for 11 May 2018.


WHAT IS GOVERNMENT DOING?


"We are past the point of no return, she said. Day Zero is almost unavoidable. We WILL run out of water by the end of April unless everyone reduces their water usage to less than 50 litres per person per day" - Hellen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape.


The Western Cape Government is trying to find alternative ways to supply water such as the VoĆ«lvlei Dam project. They've apparently also been in contact with the Borehole Association of South Africa, trying to find solutions. Is the government doing enough? You tell me.




WHAT CAN RESIDENTS DO?

From 1 February 2018, Level 6b water restrictions took effect and limits Capetonians to just 50 litres of water per day. There are also a few more specific restrictions which you can read here.


Tips to save water in Cape Town (And anywhere else, for that matter):

The Western Cape Government website and City of Cape Town website have tips that you can follow to save water.

Here are some tips from Hellen Zille, the Premier of the Western Cape, on saving water.

My favorite article on saving water is this one by Rhino Africa.

Even if you don't live in Cape Town, it's never a bad idea to save water! At least that way you're ensuring that a water shortage doesn't happen in your city. Some tips that not just Cape Town residents but everyone can use are:


  • Quick showers. I really need to stop contemplating life and having karaoke sessions in the shower!
  • Using hand sanitizer and wet wipes
  • Make sure the tap is closed (You used to say this like 100 times in primary school but seriously.) and fix leaking taps
  • Reusing a towel at least once goes a long way. You're squeaky clean after a shower anyway!
  • When it comes to removing makeup and washing your face, 2 words - Micellar water!

CAN I STILL VISIT CAPE TOWN DURING THE WATER CRISIS?


Yes, and no. If you're planning to be completely oblivious to the water crisis and just use it all willy nilly then it's probably not a good idea to visit. But, the fact of the matter is, Cape Town is the tourism hub of South Africa with over 10 million tourists every year. Tourism accounted for 9% of South Africa's GDP last year. A drop in the tourism rate in Cape Town could lead to a knock on effect on the economy and especially on the employment rate, which is worrying considering South Africa's unemployment rate is around 25%. 

SO PLEASE VISIT CAPE TOWN BUT BE MINDFUL OF YOUR WATER USAGE, BRUH.

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1 comment

  1. Farmers have had their irrigation cut by 60%.
    They have now used their new allocation - and our city taps get the difference.
    Farmers get Day Zero, rural unemployment and we all get food inflation.

    ReplyDelete

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