Grim 'day zero' warning as Capetonians ignore water-saving pleas

19 December 2017 - 16:43
By Dave Chambers
People queue to  fill up water bottles at Muizenberg spring in Cape Town.
Image: Esa Alexander People queue to fill up water bottles at Muizenberg spring in Cape Town.

Day zero has moved three weeks closer after seven days of profligate water use‚ the City of Cape Town warned on Tuesday.

April 29 is the latest anticipated date for when taps will run dry‚ but if water consumption continued to rise the date could be as early as March 18‚ said water and sanitation director Peter Flower‚ adding: “This is a terrifying prospect.”

The city’s four million residents got through 641 million litres of water a day in the last week‚ more than 28% above the target of 500 million litres. Dam levels fell by 1.1 percentage points to 33%‚ and the city council said only one-third of residents were saving enough water.

“Residential customers remain the largest portion of water users. If we can bring consumption down to 500 million litres per day‚ we will be able to avoid day zero‚” said Flower.

Level 6 water restrictions which come into effect on January 1 mean all households that use more than 10‚500 litres of water a month — or 350 litres a day — will have a water management device fitted.

Zara Nicholson‚ spokesman for mayor Patricia de Lille‚ said: “We will be rolling out an additional 40‚000 water management devices from January onwards to high-consumption households ignoring water restrictions.

“We have already installed more than 21‚000 water management devices on the properties of high users to date and this will continue over December.”

Nicholson said evaporation from dams had been lower than expected in the past week‚ but the next few months would be “brutally hot” with almost no chance of rain.

“If residential and agricultural users continue to draw this much water from the dams‚ we will reach day zero by March 18‚” she said.