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Cape Town Edges Closer Towards Day Zero - The Day Its Water Supply Will Run Out

Cape Town Edges Closer Towards Day Zero - The Day Its Water Supply Will Run Out

On 16 April, the water supply in South Africa's capital city, Cape Town, will run out. It's the first major city to face a water shortage

Mischa Pearlmen

Mischa Pearlmen

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, with some of the friendliest people, the tastiest food and wines and it's an incredible example of how somewhere can thrive once the chains of oppression - in this case, apartheid - have been thrown off.

But Cape Town has a new problem now, one that should send a huge warning to the rest of the world - the city is going to run out of water. That's not just some pie in the sky prophecy, either. There's a countdown to a set date, which is a lot closer than it seems - 16 April.

That's the date known as Day Zero, when the city's taps will run dry, cutting off water to its four million residents. That's because the Theewaterskloof Dam, the city's largest water reservoir, has nearly run dry.


There are three major reasons for the reservoir's dangerously depleted levels - population growth, climate change and an ongoing drought that has no end in sight.

What's perhaps most worrying - and telling - about the situation is that Cape Town is one of the world's major developed cities. Yes, it has severe problems with poverty, but it's a modern metropolis that played host to a number of matches in the 2010 World Cup, which was held in South Africa.

While the Theewaterskloof dam is absolutely massive, and has a capacity of more than 480,000 megalitres of water - which, according to is more than half of all the water in the area's dam system - it's currently only 13 percent full.


That's a marked change from just a few years ago when, in 2014, the dam was at near full capacity. But as the shocking animation on Universe Today shows, the water supplies have decreased by a huge proportion since the region went into drought in 2015.

That year, there was just 325mm of rainfall, while the next year that decreased even further to just 221mm. last year, just 157mm of rain fell.

The results should terrify you. As of January 29th this year, the Cape Town area's six reservoirs were at 26 per cent of their total capacity.


Residents have already had their daily water limits cut from 87 litres to 50 litres per person. Once the water runs out, citizens will have to collect it from the 200 or so collection points in the city.

As the first major city to face a water crisis, it's a stark warning to the rest of the world that things have already reached crisis point and, if we don't do something soon, are only going to get worse.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Environment, Water, World News, south africa