JOHANNESBURG – The drought-stricken South African municipality of Cape Town managed to push back even further the so-called “Day Zero,” now set for July 9, at which point all taps are to be shut off due to critically low water reserves, authorities announced on Tuesday.
Initial estimates had predicted that “Day Zero” would arrive as soon as March; however, continued efforts to reduce consumption have given the second largest city in South Africa more time before its residents must rely on local distribution points for water.
The leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, whose party rules the Western Cape region, said that although the city has not yet reached its desired maximum total consumption rate of 450,000 liters per day, this new advance was an encouraging step.
Maimane attributed the decrease in consumption to lowered personal use by Cape Town’s residents.
“Day Zero” occurs when the collective water reserves in the city’s reservoirs reach 13.5 percent. The current level on Tuesday was 24.4 percent.
Earlier this month, “Day Zero” had been moved back to May 11, with the change credited to cuts in water use by the municipality’s agricultural sector.
Authorities have asked residents and tourists to limit their daily consumption to 50 liters a day, so that running water could last until the next rainy season, which runs from April to October, although rainfall is sometimes delayed until June.
South Africa’s central government has declared the multi-year drought in the Western Cape a national disaster.
This particular drought has been compounded by not only the scarcity of rainfall that characterized the last rainy season (April-October), but also because the level of rainfall was particularly low over the last two years.