Heavy Rains Save Cape Town From Running Out of Water — For Now
City officials are urging residents to keep conserving water.
The dams in Cape Town, South Africa, are returning to sustainable levels after heavy rain pounded the city for days, according to Reuters.
The dams are now 31.5% full, compared to 21% during the same period last year and less than 13.5% earlier this year, when federal officials declared Cape Town’s water crisis a national disaster.
The rain is expected to continue through the end of the week, according to the local website Cape Town Etc, but this particular storm is unlikely to deliver enough water to eliminate the city’s predicament overall.
“There are no guarantees about anything,” Peter Johnson, a climatologist at the University of Cape Town, told Cape Town Etc. “But statistically we don’t expect the rainfall this year to be below normal. We also don’t expect it to be very much above normal.”
City officials are urging residents to continue conserving water.
“We urge water users — domestic and industries — to continue using water sparingly,” Rashid Khan, regional head at the water and sanitation department, told Reuters.
Earlier in the year, the city imposed a daily ration of 50 liters, or 13 gallons, per day per person, a limit that forced people to avoid showers, toilet flushing, dish washing, and more.
Officials even deployed the world’s first water police to fine people who washed their cars, watered their laws, and otherwise surpassed the daily limit.
They also significantly reduced water allocation for agriculture, the largest user of water in the country.
Dam levels have increased by 2% to 31,8%. Unfortunately, our collective average daily usage has also increased to 532 million litres in the last week. Please keep saving, even when it’s raining. Take the #50LitreLife challenge to see how you can save: https://t.co/8yPg1Y7KL4pic.twitter.com/wzz85d2EAo— City of Cape Town (@CityofCT) June 12, 2018
Remarkably, these stringent measures halved the city’s consumption of water, allowing government officials to avoid “Day Zero,” when taps would be turned off and people would have to line up to collect water at guarded pumps in public spaces.
Officials are not yet ready to return to the way things were because water shortages are likely to be the new normal in Cape Town, where the worst drought in more than a century continues to dry up water sources, according to Reuters.
Cape Town isn’t the only place running up against water constraints as climate change rearranges rain patterns around the world.
In South Africa alone, numerous cities are facing similar water crises.
By 2050, demand for fresh water is expected to grow by more than 40% and around a quarter of the world’s population will live in places where water resources are endangered, according to the United Nations.
For those living in poverty in Cape Town, the hardships of Day Zero arrived long ago.
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