Cape Town May Run Out of Water in Three Months

Jan 15, 2018

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Jan. 28, 2019 UPDATE: Cape Town currently is under Level 3 water restrictions while the city’s dams are approximately 50% full, as opposed to 27% this time last year when restriction levels reached a critical point of Level 6B. However, dryness from last year’s drought, coupled with strong winds, heavily contributed to a slew of recent fires across the city, including Lion’s Head and Signal Hill on January 27.


Cape Town will run out of water on April 22, according to officials, leaving South Africa’s second-most populous city, and major tourist destination, without access to running water for the foreseeable future.

In a firmly-worded statement, Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille emphasized the impact of current water consumption:

“I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 litres [23 gallons] per day. If we continue to use more than 500 million litres of water per day, we will reach Day Zero on 22 April 2018. We must avoid Day Zero, and saving water is the only way we can do this.”

Once Cape Town reservoirs dip below 13.5% capacity, city authorities will turn off the municipal water supply for nearly four million residents. Only hospitals and similar essential services will continue to receive on-demand access to water. All other Capetonians will have to go to one of 200 water sources throughout the city to collect a maximum daily water allotment of 25 liters (6.6 gallons).

Officials have raised the urgency of water restriction to level six priority, affecting all Capetonians. Under current restrictions, each person is limited to those 87 liters or 23 gallons of household water usage per day. In order to stay within these limits, most homes will have to recycle bath water; skip washing cars and watering gardens; limit showers to under 2 minutes; and avoid dishwasher or washing machine usage wherever possible.

TPG writer JT Genter experienced Cape Town’s water woes firsthand this past July during a week-long stay. His guesthouse host was extremely concerned about the water shortage, requesting all guests be mindful of their water consumption by limiting showers to five minutes’ duration or less, and to flush the toilets only when absolutely necessary.

Featured image of Theewaterskloof Dam, Cape Town, by Charles HB Mercer/Shutterstock

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