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14

Will Cape Town have no water soon?

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There is a looming crisis in Cape Town, South Africa - the upcoming loss of all water service. Because area water supplies will be too low to sustain any water service, all are scheduled to be turned off on May 11.

Cape Town is South Africa's second largest city with over 3.7 million residents. The region is currently in the worst drought it has ever faced and its entering the third year of it. As Day Zero - which is the day water service is planned to be cut off - approaches, city officials have strongly encouraged each resident to use no more than 50 liters of water per day.

After Day Zero, "about 13.5 percent of usable water will remain available to the most essential city services, including hospitals and fire brigades," according to a news article on Smithsonian.com. Residents' daily water allowance will then go from 50 liters per day to 25 liters. To keep that in perspective, the average American uses 100 liters a day.

Some residents have access to boreholes, which are deeply drilled water wells. Residents who don't have access to those will have to get their water from one of the 200 stations around the city after Day Zero hits. Having a limited number of stations and so many people in Cape Town needing water is going to worsen an already stressful situation.

How does a modern city get to such a point? The answer includes common problems faced by many cities around the world.

As was mentioned, Cape Town is currently in the worst drought it has ever faced. Combine that with climate change, extreme weather, infrastructure challenges and population growth, that makes for high demands on a water supply. Some say city mismanagement plays a role too.

We should never think this situation would never happen in our city or town. Many of the problems that are causing the water shortage in Cape Town, many cities and towns around the world are facing too.

To do your part to preserve your precious water supply, review our Drought page to understand how it happens and our Water Conservation page for tips on what you can do individually and as a family.

References:
What's Behind Cape Town's Water Woes? by Smithsonian.com
In less than 3 months, a major international city will likely run out of water by CNN

*Update to this story: as of February 20, Day Zero has now been pushed back to July 9.

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