Cape Town might avoid “Day Zero” after significant rainfall

Heavy rain and water restrictions have helped the city escape being the world’s first to completely run out of water

One of the three South African capitals, Cape Town, was supposed to be the first city in the world that would completely run out of water and was quickly approaching what has been known as “Day Zero”.

But, thanks to significant rain that came after an extended drought, as well as significant approaches to saving water adopted by local inhabitants and businesses, there may now be enough water to avoid the catastrophe.

After an extended period of drough, the water levels in the reservoirs surrounding Cape Town are reaching half of their usual capacity — Shutterstock Cape Town might avoid “Day Zero” with significant rain Cape Town Day Zero
After an extended period of drought, water levels in the reservoirs surrounding Cape Town are now reaching half of their usual capacity – Shutterstock

On Thursday last week, the government of Cape Town announced that Day Zero might be ruled out in an official statement.

Executive deputy mayor alderman Ian Neilson said water levels in reservoirs surrounding the area have risen consistently over the last six weeks. According to current figures, the city is already in a much stronger position in comparison to last two years.

“Provided that adequate water restrictions are maintained, the City is confident that there will be no prospect of reaching Day Zero in 2019,” Neilson announced.

South African Tourism UK and Ireland hub head Tolene van der Merwe underlined that it was also the measures implemented by locals and businesses that helped overcome the alarming situation.

“Over the last few months, we have seen the tourism industry and locals work together to implement robust measures to reduce water consumption whilst continuing to welcome visitors and provide a great experience,” she said.

“Cape Town has also experienced significant rainfall in the last six weeks and as a result, dam levels have risen consistently and are now up to 42.7 per cent full, so the city is now in a much stronger position than it was at the end of winter last year.”

Cape Town was expected to become world's first city without water — Shutterstock Cape Town might avoid “Day Zero” with significant rain Cape Town Day Zero
Cape Town was expected to become world’s first city without water – Shutterstock

The dams level is also expected to increase over the week because of the run-off and the snow on mountain peaks in the catchment area that begins to melt.

However, despite the positive trend, the national Department of Water and Sanitation has said that it will not lift restrictions until the Cape supply dams are 85 per cent full.

They will revise the situation in October at the end of the “hydrological year”. The season is the end of the Western Cape’s rainy season.

Nielson said he would urge the department to ease the restrictions even if the water levels don’t reach the 85 per cent.

He argues that there is no need to keep to the strict level B restrictions if more water is available while stating there is still a need to have “adequate” water restrictions.

“We need to have in-between steps and not just a ‘big bang’ and remove all restrictions. If we can go to a less restrictive system, we must do so. It also means a lower tariff,” Neilson said.