Cape Town’s mayor has warned visitors to the city that it is ‘very likely’ to run out of water in April. Some reports suggest the popular South African city will run dry even earlier as residents and tourists ignore attempts to reduce usage. Reservoirs supplying Cape Town are running dangerously low after two years of drought, during which rainfall has been only about a third of normal levels.
Mayor Patricia de Lille said Day Zero, which is the date the city will run dry, was originally set at April 21 but this has since been moved forward to April 12. “Day Zero is the day that almost all of the taps in the city will be turned off and we will have to queue for water,” said the city council.
Water pressure has been reduced to limit consumption, but water leaks and cuts in the supply are becoming more common. Alistair Coy, a British visitor to Cape Town, tweeted footage of one of the reservoirs supplying the city. He called the crisis an “impending disaster in one of the world’s greatest cities”, and predicted Day Zero will arrive in March.
“Four million citizens will be expected to collect 25 litres per person from one of 200 collection points,” he said. “A true nightmare scenario is developing before our very eyes.”
Jamie Bowden, a long-stay UK visitor to the city, told The Independent: “The water crisis is the only topic of conversation. Arriving passengers at Cape Town airport are met with a huge banner on the drive out of the airport imploring visitors to shower for just two minutes.” Hotels, bars and restaurants remain open but some have turned off the water supply in public lavatories and are providing hand sanitizer instead.
A statement from South African Tourism said: “To counter the short-term effects of the drought, the city has put in place a number of initiatives to increase the supply of water and make provision for water shortages for locals and visitors.
“There will be water for tourists’ essential daily needs including access to drinking water and for personal hygiene. At present, tourists will be able to shower and maintain daily hygiene. Some swimming pools at hotels have been converted to salt (ocean) water.”