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Reservoirs running dry

Cape Town water supply in dire straits

The current ongoing drought -after three years of below-average rainfall- have put the Cape Town municipal water supply under severe strain. Reservoirs have dropped below 30 percent capacity. In short; Cape Town's four million residents are in danger of running out water.

The limit on the use of water - 87 litres per day - introduced in December has been ignored by more than 60 per cent of the population. Today mayor Patricia de Lille declared the city is nearing the ‘point of no return’. "We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them," she told reporters.

Starting February 1, the city's inhabitants will be put on a strict ration: 50 litres of water per day per person. There is a complete ban on watering lawns and gardens, filling pools or washing cars, and people are being told to shower rather than bathe, and keep it quick. learned that the mayor intends to use her executive powers: If reservoir levels drop below 13.5 percent capacity, she is vowing to turn off the taps altogether. That will force people to come to one of 200 municipal sites to collect a maximum daily ration of 25 litres.

At the current rate of water usage, "Zero Day," as it is being called, will arrive April 21. Cape Town would earn the dubious distinction of becoming the first major world city to run dry.

Residential customers remain the biggest problem. The city has been begging them to change their habits for months, to little avail. Water management devices have already been installed at the homes of more than 30,000 of the biggest offenders. And now the city has released a satellite map that identifies who is or isn't complying in the neighbourhood.

Cape Town denies that it's trying to "name and shame," but the available information includes every property's individual water usage and street address. And such hardball water management tactics might be the way of the future.

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