Why We Can Learn From Cape Town in Solving Water Crises
“How did the city of Cape Town get itself out of a water crisis and how can other cities learn from it?”
At the beginning of 2018, the city of Cape Town was facing a devastating problem. Given the current supply of water and usage rates, the city was projected to run out of water within the year. Realizing the direness of the scenario, the city government issued a dire warning. If the water in the damns became too low, the municipality would shut off the taps on a day labeled “day zero”. To ensure citizens would cooperate, the city placed a 50 liter/day limit to water usage (for reference, the average daily per capita use in California was 321 liters), and anyone who went over would be heavily fined or even have their water shut down. Residents took heed, and began rationing water and using it as efficiently as possible. As a result, Cape Town was able to lower its water usage, achieve sustainability and avoid day zero. As droughts become a larger problem in the future with climate change, cities should learn from Cape Town in how to grapple with these problems.