Cape Town heads for 'Day Zero' as water supplies dwindle


Cape Town residents may lose piped water to their homes within two months if they do not act to counter the effects of the worst drought to hit South Africa's second city in nearly a century.

Cape Town, now on Level 6B water restrictions, is still not achieving its target of 500 megaliters per day.

Journalists are calling it "Day Zero" and the date which was originally predicted to be April 22 has now been moved up to April 12.

Still, the severe drought impacting Cape Town residents now is not an anomaly, as experts believe this is the city's new normal.

The city, which attracts millions of tourists every year, has enforced strict waste controls, including prosecuting homeowners who use more than the 87-litre daily limit.

When they hit 13.5 per cent - estimated for April 12 - the pipeline will be shut down and the city's four million residents will have to queue up each day for their supply from one of 200 water collection points.

City councillors are set to vote on the introduction of a punitive tariff, which will charge households using more than 6,000 litres per month higher water rates.

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Even with the predicament they find themselves in, residents have not cut their water use significantly, said Patricia De Lille, Cape Town's mayor. And that is not pointing fingers or bickering, just stating a fact because number one: "we are already putting in a desalinator at the Waterfront. and it will be producing two megalitres of water in itself", she said.

Zille's spokesperson Michael Mpofu said the strategy plan included the deployment of forces at the various points of distribution across the metro, regular patrols, and the escorting of water resources to critical points where necessary.

Citizens are recycling bath water to help flush toilets and are being told to limit showers to 90 seconds.

"It is still possible to push back day zero if we all stand together now and change our current path", urged Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson.

On Wednesday during a public meeting at the Joseph Stone Auditorium in Athlone, both Zille and Maimane said the responsibility to provide bulk water lay with the national department.

"No amount of politicking and scapegoats will do away with the imminent water blackout we face in the Western Cape if we fail to act responsibly", Mokonyane said.