Last week, it was announced that Day Zero in Cape Town had been delayed to 2020, thanks to the recent spate of rainfalls causing dam levels to rise.
Of course, Capetonians greeted this news with relief, especially the part that said that the City of Cape Town is considering dropping daily water usage target.
Cue almost flushing their toilets and showering in glee. Wait a minute, though, and push pause on that business-as-usual routine, friends.
That’s because experts are saying that Day Zero is a mere one poor rainfall season away, which could have dramatic effects on the Mother City and the Western Cape at large.
Here’s some insight from the various experts who spoke to Huffington Post SA:
“In Cape Town, Day Zero has been delayed by “the control of agricultural use, more information, higher tariffs and water savings”, said the University of Cape Town’s Professor Anton Eberhard.
“If Cape Town were to run out of water, the crisis would quickly balloon to a national emergency, as massive outward migration would “drive up water use in other parts of the country and increase the dangers of over-exploitation”, said Zachary Donnenfeld, a senior researcher at the African Futures and Innovation Programme.
Beyond the widespread dehydration, a shrinking agricultural sector, investor panic and possible security implications of Donnenfeld’s scenario, Dhesigen Naidoo, chief executive of the Water Research Commission, continues the dire prediction: the 10% decrease in agricultural yield would wipe out 20 000 jobs and decimate farming communities.
It’s not only Cape Town that has to worry about running out of water, said Naidoo:
While the city of Cape Town represents an extreme, many South African cities and towns are just one poor rainfall season away from this worst-case scenario.
Eish, that’s a bleak outcome for the future, and it’s dangerously close to becoming real.
There are also other issues that might result in a Day Zero-type situation occurring, namely the problems in South Africa’s water sector:
South Africa’s careless water culture means that the average individual’s daily usage is 235 litres, way above the global average of 173 litres. This figure is likely to be far higher in South African suburbs, considering that easy access to pressurised water means that wealthier households use exponentially more than those who collect it in containers on the outskirts of the city.
Another national trend is not to treat and reuse wastewater … these failures [of treatment facilities] lead to significant health risks for nearby communities, where girl children are statistically worst affected by polluted water as they are often the weakest members of the community.
On average, 41% of the nation’s municipal water is lost through leaks and is considered non-revenue water as it cannot be billed for, the water and sanitation department said in 2017.
Add into the mix the fact that smaller South African municipalities are unable to repair ageing infrastructure due to lack of funds, and the over-exploitation of rivers resulting in less water for dams, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
The possibility of Day Zero going down this year opened up the eyes of Capetonians and spurred them into water-saving mode.
Despite this wintry season offering plenty of rainfall, it can’t be stressed enough that they need to keep doing what they were doing before Day Zero was delayed, specifically reducing water usage.
If not, that dreaded day when the taps will run dry will take the Mother City, and soon the rest of the country, by storm.
The full article is available to read here.
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