The Cape Town Water Crisis

by Jessica Bruening

For the past five years, Cape Town has been experiencing their worst drought in over a century. This caused water levels behind the Voelvei Dams in the Western Cape to drop to dangerously low levels. Currently the Dams are about 24% full, but once they hit 13%, city officials will declare Day Zero. Day Zero has been predicted for June 4, and when it hits, all taps will be shut off and all water will be rerouted to emergency pickup points. This will mark the first time a major city has run out of water. Currently, 4 million residents have been limited to only 50 liters of water a day (13 gallons). For comparison, the average American uses 100 gallons of water per day on average. Police have been on the lookout for people using more than their allotted amount of water, or people purifying water from the city’s water supply and selling it for a profit.  Although Cape Town would be the first major city to run out of water, other major cities are likely to face the same problems in the future due to climate change and population growth. This includes cities such as São Paulo, Brazil, Bangalore, India, Beijing, China, Cairo, Egypt, and others. Researches have said that it’s difficult to prepare for a crisis like this as its very hard to predict a drought, but by working to combat climate change and adapt to shrinking water supplies, we will not continue to see cities running out of water in the future.