Will Cape Town be the first city to run out of water?.
The South African port city of Cape Town is suffering from a serious water shortage due to an unprecedented drought, which has left dam levels at about 30 per cent capacity.
Experts predict that there is about 90 days worth of water left in the city, with Mayor Patricia De Lille stating on January 8 that the final day of normal water consumption, or ‘day zero’, would be April 22.
The crisis, which has been caused by very low rainfall over the past three years and water consumption by the city’s growing population, could force authorities to shut the taps off.
What’s being done?
Measures brought into place in early January included strict conservation of available water and the setting of daily usage limits at 87 litres.
Filling up swimming pools and cleaning cars have been banned as the local government looks for ways to address a possible catastrophe.
The Indian cricket team was recently advised to take two-minute showers during a visit to the city in early January.
Tapping into underground aquifers is one measure employed by the city’s authorities.
“If we go drilling water underground, we will get bigger volumes of water and the price of the water will also be much cheaper than the other type of augmentation that we are working on,” Ms De Lille said.
The mayor’s projected date for “day zero” was calculated based on daily consumption and levels in the current sources, according to the BBC.
The city authorities said that once dam levels reached 13.5 per cent capacity, the water supply would be turned off for everything but essential services, such as hospitals.
Residents would then need to travel to one of about 200 municipal water points, where they are able to collect a maximum of 25 litres per day.
A possible solution?
WaterSeer, a US-based company is developing a device which would make it possible to collect water from the air.
The device, which is in its early stages of testing, works by using an internal fan to draw air into a collection chamber, where it eventually vapourises and creates condensation.
Water can be produced with “less than 100 watts” of electricity, the company told the BBC.
“Individuals and businesses will pave the way for innovative solutions, as they will be able to move and adopt a series of them quicker than large utilities that are sometimes mired in regulatory constraints and rigid decision-making cultures,” Nancy Curtis, a founding partner of WaterSeer, said.
“However, utilities offer the opportunity to make large-scale impacts on replenishing depleting water supplies.”
“A community of 500 would save 40 million US gallons (150 million litres) of water or more each year, reducing stress on traditional surface and underground sources,” Ms Curtis said.