A looming water crisis in major city in S Africa comes as a warning sign, the “canary in a coal mine” to all cities, according to Larry Swatuk, professor of International Development at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario.
Cape Town could become the first major city in the world to run out of water in early April.
Larry Swatuk (PhD) is also an extraordinary professor at the Institute for Water Studies, University of Western Cape, S. Africa.Listen
“Day Zero” is the name given to the date when the city seems that its water supply will run out.
Recently the date was moved forward from April 22, to April 12. With less than 80 days of water left in the city’s reservoirs in the South Africa summer, the premier of the Western Cape province, Helen Zille says the situation has now become an imminent crisis.
She has written to South Africa President Jacob Zuma calling for the declaration of a national disaster affecting some 3.8 million people in the nation’s second most populous city, and vacation spot for another 2 million a year.
A booming population, ageing infrastructure with its concept based on European climate conditions, and a changing climate have all combined to create the crisis.
Three years of drought have worsened the crisis and the climate forecast predicts the region will get hotter and drier in coming decades.
Citizens have been told to limit showers to 90 seconds, and bath water is being used to flush toilets.
Although the city has reduced water pressure, the mayor is quoted in a CNN report saying “We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them.”
Starting February 1, residents will be limited to 50 litres of water per day.
Professor Swatuk points out that many of these issues can be discussed at a major international conference coming up in Montreal in June at the World Cities meeting known as ICLEI ( International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives/ Local governments for Sustainability).
He also says, all cities must start to look at these issues as varying degrees of each and all the elements of the Cape Town situation will eventually affect them.