Cape Town is facing a dystopian future – on 12 April, dubbed Day Zero, the South African city is expected to become the world’s first major metropolis to run out of water.
Cape Town plans to shut its pipe network and instead designate 200 water collection points once dam levels reach 13.5%. The city’s four million residents will then be allocated 25 litres of water a day. For comparison, UK residents each use, on average, 150 litres of water a day.
Distribution is to be shut off to most of the city except for “key commercial areas and institutions such as hospitals”, says the Cape Times newspaper.
Some residents are stockpiling water from natural springs, while others are believed to be turning to the black market. The city’s water and sanitation department said this weekend that it was investigating reports of retailers illegally selling municipal tap water, after people were seen lining up with empty bottles at two malls.
“This should be a wake-up call for city authorities and national governments around the world,” says the Financial Times. “Many of the world’s largest cities are acutely vulnerable to the effects of climate change – longer droughts, heavier rainfall, rising sea levels, fiercer wildfires, worsening air pollution and searing heatwaves.”