South Africa: Cape Town implements emergency water measures

January 19 , 2018

South Africa’s City of Cape Town is due to implement strict water use restrictions from February, saying “a point of no return” has been reached. 

The capital city of one of the country’s leading horticultural provinces said in a statement that “Day Zero” – when the city’s taps would have to be turned off – was now “very likely” to happen on April 21.

From February 1, Capetonians will be limited to 50 liters of water per person per day, which is to make up for the many months of missing the 500 million liter-per-day collective consumption target.

“We have reached a point of no return. Despite our urging for months, 60% of Capetonians are callously using more than 87 litres per day” the council said.

“It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero. At this point we must assume that they will not change their behaviour and that the chance of reaching Day Zero on 21 April 2018 is now very likely.”

On Friday the council will be voting on a punitive tariff that will charge residents exponentially higher rates for water usage above 6 000 liters per month.

The council also announced the proposed Drought Charge was likely to be dropped. The charge would have levied private residences and businesses, in accordance with their estimated values rather than their water usage.

“We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them. We have listened to the comments of thousands of residents asking for fairness,” it said.

The city has also advanced its planning for Day Zero with approximately 200 sites having been assessed. Local collection points will be announced from next week so that communities can begin preparing for that eventuality.

“Cape Town, this is the moment where we can bring about the fundamental behaviour change that is needed to save us all from running out of water,” the council said.

“The time to act for everyone’s sake is now. So if we reduce the demand enough now, we can still get our water delivered to our houses and not have to queue daily for our allocation.”

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