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Cape Town, South Africa is running out of water as ‘Day Zero’ looms

Cape Town, South Africa is running out of water as ‘Day Zero’ looms thumbnail

Cape Town, South Africa is set to run out of water by April 12, 2018, sooner than previous predictions. Andrea Willmore/Shutterstock

  • Cape Town, South Africa has moved up its predictions for when the city will run out of water, with officials now saying they’ll likely have to shut off the taps in early April.
  • The city is urging people not to shower for more than a minute or two, but politicians say water usage in the city is up lately, not down.
  • They’re worried about “anarchy” if “Day Zero” arrives. 


Cape Town is officially on track to turn off the faucets earlier than anyone predicted.

Breweries that normally bottle beer are switching to spring water, and private hotels are rushing to bring pricey desalination plants online as the city struggles — in vain — to get people to use less water.

On Monday, the City of Cape Town announced that the day when they will have to shut off the faucets, which they’re calling “Day Zero,” has been moved from April 21 to April 12.

The coastal city, one of Africa’s most popular tourist destinations, is grappling with the worst drought conditions it has faced in over a century. Dam levels have decreased 1.4% since last week, according to new official reports, and city dams are now 27.2% full. When they reach 13.5% capacity, the city says it will be forced to turn off the taps and move to a bucket-brigade-style system.

day zero cape town natsmason/Instagram

If that happens, the only way Capetonians will be allowed to get water from the city will be through a pre-industrial-style network of 200 water distribution points. Thousands of people will line up at those taps around the city to collect their allotted 25 liters of water each day, then haul it home to shower, clean, flush, and do everything else that requires fresh H2O.

“I personally doubt whether it is possible for a city the size of Cape Town to distribute sufficient water to its residents, using its own resources, once the underground water-pipe network has been shut down,” Western Cape Premier Helen Zille wrote Monday in the Daily Maverick.

Premier Zille has asked President Jacob Zuma to declare a national disaster for the city, since Cape Town may need more police and military personnel if Day Zero arrives to “defend storage facilities” and deal with disease outbreaks as sanitation worsens. She also said officials hope to store some emergency water at military bases “for safety.”

Cape Town officials say efforts to get people to cut back on their water usage haven’t been working. The city has been urging every resident to consume less than 50 liters of municipal water a day, and to collect what they use when showering and hand washing and re-use that “grey water” to flush toilets and water plants.

Capetown, a city of 4 million, welcomes more than 1.5 million tourists a year, Deutsche Welle reports. The beach and sea-sport lover’s haven is also a short distance from safaris and wine excursions.

cape town shortage Jonathan Garber/Business Insider

Restaurants and hotels are asking tourists and visitors to do their part to conserve, too. At the One & Only Cape Town hotel, the staff removed bath plugs and started using recycled, filtered water in the pool. They’ve also installed water-saving shower heads and are encouraging guests at the five-star resort to “save like a local” and keep their showers to two minutes or less.

Some hotels are also contemplating spending hundreds of millions of dollars to install their own off-grid desalination plants so they can turn ocean water into a usable drinking and washing source.

South Africa’s national weather service says it can no longer predict how long this drought might last, since “previous forecasting models have proved useless in the era of climate change.” Although there’s a thunderstorm in the forecast on the Western Cape, it’s expected to drop less than half an inch of rain.

Meanwhile, city officials are still holding out hope that they can avoid “Day Zero” if consumers shift course and cut their water usage. Zille urges that “no one should be showering more than twice a week.”

But many residents have started to stock up on water just in case. Pictures posted on social media show lines of shoppers already lining up to buy industrial-sized water jugs.

cape town day zero water shortage

Business Insider

17 Comments on "Cape Town, South Africa is running out of water as ‘Day Zero’ looms"

  1. twocats on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 7:48 am 

    so in this circumstance if you live in a rural area and have a well you would probably be much less-inconvenienced than in the city standing in a water-line.

    check out “the water knife” for a good book on this scenario playing out in Western US. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

  2. Ghung on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:23 am 

    “…. private hotels are rushing to bring pricey desalination plants online as the city struggles ….”

    Right. Thousands of thirsty people will just sit around while the rich take their showers in the hotels. And I doubt breweries will be able to hang on to their spring water for long unless they are giving free beer to the little people.

  3. Bob Jones on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:40 am 

    Whites are a parasite everywhere they go on Earth.

    If those white scumbags couldn’t exploit Africans, they would high-tail their white asses back to Europe… the degenerate trash.

  4. Ghung on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:45 am 

    Gosh, Bob, ever been to Asia?

    ….and the fact that you are online expressing your anger tells me you are a parasite as well.

    Humans are parasites and they are killing their host.

  5. ohanian on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 12:10 pm 

    Whiskey is for drinking.
    Water is for Mad Max.

  6. Sissyfuss on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 7:02 pm 

    Sao Paulo went through this a few years back. Their drought ended after 2 years and their reservoirs are now back to 25%. And they are back to consuming and adding population having learned nothing. It will take a true SHTF before humanity realizes their folly and probably not even then.

  7. MASTERMIND on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 7:30 pm 

    Wal-Mart Job Cuts Rise to 1,000 in Company’s Latest Shake-Up

    Dead Canary in Coal Mine!

  8. JuanP on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 7:46 pm 

    People building and/or selling water pumps, barrels, gutters, filters, desalinators, cisterns, tanks, etc. must be making a killing. I can’t imagine such a big city with no running water. Those who can afford the necessary preparations will be OK, but a lot of people will be in trouble. You can survive around three days without water. A gallon a day per person will allow you to get by if you are extremely efficient and not sweating much. Sao Paulo got rain at the last minute and was spared; let’s hope that the same thing happens here.

  9. Go Speed Racer on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:22 pm 

    If everybody would piss into the water reservoir,
    then they would have plenty of water.

  10. MASTERMIND on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:27 pm 

    Why We’re Underestimating American Collapse

    “America has had 11 school shootings in the last 23 days, which is more than anywhere else in the world, even Afghanistan or Iraq”

    Thank This Arse!

  11. fmr-paultard on Thu, 25th Jan 2018 9:34 pm 

    ((mm)) don’t blame the bumpski bro. it’s the thing that turned me around. I was a liberal turned blue republican to vote for president paul, then back to liberal and called president trump nasty names. but he didn’t grab the bumpski and declared jerusalem capital of israel and i’m all for the dude. president trump is cool bro.

  12. peakyeast on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 1:11 pm 

    @Mastermind… Did america have mass school shootings in the 1950s?

    This is not a result of the guns – its a result of mental and cultural degradation.

  13. MASTERMIND on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 2:24 pm 


    Expect more Vegas Masacres, More church shootings, More columbines! Trends are going UP, UP, UP!

  14. MASTERMIND on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 2:27 pm 


    You are also changing the subject! We are not talking about the 1950’s and the past. We are talking about the present. Which obviously you don’t want to talk about.

  15. peakyeast on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 2:48 pm 

    @MM: I am talking about development over time.

    Why wouldnt I be interested in talking about the now?

  16. peakyeast on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 3:04 pm 

    @MM: I totally expect more of everything bad. That is part of being more people and part of the great dumbing down.

    Btw. perhaps China has already started the war on USA.. Ref. Flakka. Produced in China. Cost 3-5$ a hit. Influence can last days. Total destruction is almost certain.

    When a smuggled drug cost so little then it not really the profit that is the prime motivator. Its the destruction of the recipients.

  17. MASTERMIND on Fri, 26th Jan 2018 3:46 pm 

    The last trickle failure gave us eight wonderful years of Barack Obama. So in knowing that I have some hope.

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