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Day Zero drought looms over Cape Town

By Li Zhiwei (People's Daily)    09:43, January 04, 2018

Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: Li Zhiwei

Johannesburg (People’s Daily) – In response to the severe drought that could deplete Cape Town’s water resources entirely, local government officials imposed further measures on water usage that went into effect on January 1, 2018.

Similar to a science fiction film, the city has already prepared for a “Day Zero” scenario, as it could be the first city in the world to run out of water.

The city’s official website has a Day Zero Dashboard, where at the top of the page it reads, “Day Zero: April 29, 2018 – The day the taps will be turned off.”

On Monday, Level 6 water restrictions went into effect.

Household water consumption has been set at 2,700 gallons per month, roughly 30 gallons of municipal drinking water per person, regardless of whether they are at home, work, or elsewhere.

Those who violate the new restrictions will incur fines and homeowners could have water control devices installed on their properties.

A city-wide ban is in effect prohibiting people from watering their gardens and filling swimming pools.

“No washing of vehicles, trailers, caravans or boats with municipal drinking water allowed,” read the new restrictions.

Weak rainfall and rapidly declining dam levels have led to the city’s drought conditions.

Dam levels are critical for Cape Town’s water supply. The water storage of major dams surrounding Cape Town is at roughly 30 percent of its total accumulated capacity as of January 3.

Compared to recent years, dam levels reached 50 percent.

According to information posted on the city’s website, if dam levels were above 50 percent, the city’s water system could function properly.

Once dam levels drop below 13 percent, water supply to the city will end.

In preparation for Day Zero, local police and army troops will be assigned to guard and monitor 200 designated water stations throughout the city.

Cape Town has initiated various projects in efforts to generate roughly 53 million gallons of water by next month. And four desalination plants are expected to open soon.

Over the recent months, residents have been encouraged to reduce water usage, and tourists have been alerted to the issues as the city is a popular destination for holiday travelers.

At the city’s hotels, signs suggesting shower limits and the number of toilet flushes hang in rooms. Other signs read, “Reuse Towels” and “Wash Clothes Less Often.”

David Olivier, a researcher at Wits University, said Cape Town is prepared for the water crisis.

“The best attitude the people of Cape Town can have is for all of us to do our best, together. The world is watching. Let’s set an example for everyone to follow,” said Olivier. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Liang Jun)

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