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Will Cape Town be the first city to run out of water?

projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March

1 - 8 of 8 posts

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 13 Jan 2018

Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, African penguins, sunshine and sea, is a world-renowned tourist destination. But it could also become famous for being the first major city in the world to run out of water.

Most recent projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March. The crisis has been caused by three years of very low rainfall, coupled with increasing consumption by a growing population.

The local government is racing to address the situation, with desalination plants to make sea water drinkable, groundwater collection projects, and water recycling programmes.

Meanwhile Cape Town's four million residents are being urged to conserve water and use no more than 87 litres (19 gallons) a day. Car washing and filling up swimming pools has been banned. And the visiting Indian cricket team were told to limit their post-match showers to two minutes.

Such water-related problems are not confined to Cape Town, of course.

Nearly 850 million people globally lack access to safe drinking water, says the World Health Organization, and droughts are increasing.

So it seems incredible that we still waste so much of this essential natural resource. In developing and emerging countries, up to 80% of water is lost through leakages, according to German environmental consultancy GIZ. Even in some areas of the US, up to 50% of water trickles away due to ageing infrastructure.

A growing number of technology companies are focusing their work on water management - applying "smart" solutions to water challenges.

Cape Town may have an added water source in just a matter of weeks as drilling began in Mitchells Plain yesterday at a site that forms part of the Cape Flats aquifer.

Once all the groundwater boreholes are integrated, it is expected that the Cape Flats aquifer will deliver 80 million litres per day, the Table Mountain Group aquifer 40 million litres a day, and the Atlantis aquifer 30 million litres a day.

At the Mitchells Plain Wastewater Treatment Plant yesterday, contractor Derek Whitfield from Environmental Drilling Remediation Services said these were “exciting times” and he was “optimistic” about the results the boreholes would yield.

“We are expecting between 50 000 and 100 000 litres an hour, which would give the city a million litres more a day than it’s currently getting,” he said.

He added that it would be “just a matter of weeks before this water gets into the taps”.

“We are currently drilling, monitoring and sinking exploration boreholes to target where the production holes are going to be drilled,” said Whitfield.

Mayor Patricia de Lille visited the site yesterday.

“The groundwater abstraction projects form part of the City’s programme to supply additional water from desalination, water recycling and groundwater abstraction.

“This is the first time such an extensive mapping has been done,” De Lille said.

De Lille said the City would drill in Strandfontein, Philippi, Wesbank, Bishop Lavis and Khayelitsha to look for the best abstraction points to tap water from the Cape Flats aquifer.

“It is important that all residents must continue to save water, despite the City’s work to secure new water sources. I cannot stress it enough: all residents must save water and use less than 87 litres per day,” De Lille said.

“If we continue to use more than 500 million litres of water per day, we will reach Day Zero on April 22.”

In addition, the City yesterday announced they would start rolling out pressure management technology.

The first project would take place in Paarden Eiland today, affecting 367 customers.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
2 17 Jan 2018

Let’s begin the week with some cheery news that has nothing to do with the epochal moment in which Steve Bannon showed up in the Capitol wearing only one shirt and a tie. Far away from the Beltway stakeouts, the city of Cape Town in South Africa is running out of water. From Quartz:

   It’s the height of summer in Cape Town, and the southwesternmost region of South Africa is gripped by a catastrophic water shortage. Unless the city adopts widespread rationing, the government says, the taps “will be turned off” on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver. This would make Cape Town the first major city in the world to run out of water, according to Anthony Turton, a professor at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State in South Africa, who spoke to the New York Times. “It’s not an impending crisis—we’re deep, deep, deep in crisis.” The shortage is the result of a multi-year drought.

Drought conditions have become epidemic in the southern hemisphere over the past decade. Last fall, which is spring in that part of the world, the good folks at Climate Watch published a survey of the region.

   Drought is also intensifying on the other side of the Indian Ocean in Indonesia and Australia and the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in the tropics likely plays a large role in this. As early as June our model confidently predicted the development of a positive IOD and we pointed out the increased drought risk in those regions. Due to the IOD conditions those droughts are likely to continue.

Tied in with drought conditions, and with the deepening climate crisis that are their major cause, are a number of other problems, as Climate Watch explains. One of these is epidemic disease. From JST:

   Recent climate changes have increased the possible risks of infectious disease outbreaks in unexpected regions and on scales previously unknown. This project is developing an infectious disease outbreak prediction model that incorporates the influences of a variety of environmental factors into the climate change models in order to predict the outbreaks of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases such as cholera that are predominantly affected by climate conditions. The ultimate aim of the research is to build an early warning system that can be applied in implementing effective countermeasures for infectious disease…The predictions can be applied through approaches involving appropriate preventative measures during warning periods and in high-risk regions (including implementation of countermeasures, preparation of medicines and diagnostic kits for an early response). In the future, the system can also be expected to be developed and deployed in areas outside Southern Africa.

Leave that aside for a moment and consider the original story. Cape Town, a major city with close to a half-million inhabitants, is in immediate danger of running out of water. Two million tourists a year visit the place. As Reuters reports, the city is scrambling as “Day Zero” approaches.

   “Day Zero” - the date taps are due to run dry - has crept forward to April 22 as city authorities race to build desalination plants and drill underground boreholes.

This climate business remains the most successful hoax in history.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
3 24 Jan 2018

Cape Town to run out of water by 12 April amid worst drought in a century

Residents will have to queue at standpipes for daily rations unless they drastically reduce consumption

As Cape Town suffers its worst drought in a century, residents have been warned that they face losing piped water to their homes on 12 April – nine days earlier than predicted.

If drastic consumption reductions are not achieved by “Day Zero”, people will have to queue at 200 standpipes for daily rations of 25 litres (6.6 US gallons), residents were told on Tuesday.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
4 2 Feb 2018

It sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster. “Day Zero” is coming to Cape Town this April. Everyone, be warned.

The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in whispers of impending chaos.

The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously close to running dry.

If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order.

“When Day Zero comes, they’ll have to call in the army,” said Phaldie Ranqueste, who was filling his white S.U.V. with big containers of water at a natural spring where people waited in a long, anxious line.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way for Cape Town. This city is known for its strong environmental policies, including its careful management of water in an increasingly dry corner of the world.

But after a three-year drought, considered the worst in over a century, South African officials say Cape Town is now at serious risk of becoming one of the few major cities in the world to lose piped water to homes and most businesses.

Hospitals, schools and other vital institutions will still get water, officials say, but the scale of the shut-off will be severe.

Cape Town’s problems embody one of the big dangers of climate change: the growing risk of powerful, recurrent droughts. In Africa, a continent particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, those problems serve as a potent warning to other governments, which typically don’t have this city’s resources and have done little to adapt.

For now, political leaders here talk of coming together to “defeat Day Zero.” As water levels in the dams supplying the city continue to drop, the city is scrambling to finish desalination plants and increase groundwater production. Starting in February, residents will face harsher fines if they exceed their new daily limit, which will go down to 50 liters (13.2 gallons) a day per person from 87 liters now.

Just a couple of years ago, the situation could not have looked more different here. In 2014, the dams stood full after years of good rain. The following year, C40, a collection of cities focused on climate change worldwide, awarded Cape Town its “adaptation implementation” prize for its management of water.

Cape Town was described as one of the world’s top “green” cities, and the Democratic Alliance — the opposition party that has controlled Cape Town since 2006 — took pride in its emphasis on sustainability and the environment.

The accolades recognized the city’s success in conserving water. Though the city’s population had swelled by 30 percent since the early 2000s, overall water consumption had remained flat. Many of the new arrivals settled in the city’s poor areas, which consume less water, and actually helped bring down per capita use.

The city’s water conservation measures — fixing leaks and old pipes; installing meters and adjusting tariffs — had a powerful impact. Maybe too powerful.

The city conserved so much water that it postponed looking for new sources.

For years, Cape Town had been warned that it needed to increase and diversify its water supply. Almost all of its water still comes from six dams dependent on rainfall, a risky situation in an arid region with a changing climate. The dams, which were full only a few years ago, are now down to about 26 percent of capacity, officials say.

Cape Town has grown warmer in recent years and a bit drier over the last century, according to Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the University of Cape Town who has measured average rainfall from the turn of the 20th century to the present.

Climate models show that Cape Town is destined to face a drier future, with rains becoming more unpredictable in the coming decades. “The drier years are expected to be drier than they were, and the wetter years will not be as wet,” Mr. Wolski said.

As far back as 2007, South Africa’s Department of Water Affairs warned that the city needed to consider increasing its supply with groundwater, desalination and other sources, citing the potential impact of climate change.

Mike Muller, who served as the department’s director between 1997 and 2005, said that the city’s water conservation strategy, without finding new sources, has been “a major contributor to Cape Town’s troubles.”

“Nature isn’t particularly willing to compromise,” he added. “There will be severe droughts. And if you haven’t prepared for it, you’ll get hammered.”

Ian Neilson, the deputy mayor, said that new water supplies have been part of the city’s plans but “it was not envisaged that it would be required so soon.”

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
5 3 Feb 2018

Cape Town’s drought could fuel growing resistance to common antibiotics as more people are expected to become sick when normal hygiene practices are pushed aside in the name of saving water - resulting in more antibiotics being dispensed.

This is according to Professor Marc Mendelson, head of the infectious diseases division at the University of Cape Town.

“In drought situations, one usually sees an increase in the transmission of bacterial and viral infections through food and waterborne processes. Also if people wash their hands less, the worry is that we’ll begin to see more diarrhoeal disease in particular,” Mendelson said.

Cape Town authorities should have begun implementing water augmentation schemes in 2012 or earlier, the Water Research Commission (WRC) said.

If this had been done, there would be no talk of Day Zero, said WRC chief executive Dhesigen Naidoo.

Images circulating on social media show a 1990 article in the Cape Times, wherein the WRC warned that supplies for the Cape Town area were expected to dry up in 17 years' time.

The article has been confirmed as published in April of that year.

Veteran journalist Barry Streek wrote at the time: “It is estimated that known fresh water supplies for the Cape Town metropolitan will be fully committed by the year 2007.

“Thereafter, the reclamation of purified sewage effluent to augment supplies is a distinct possibility.”

Naidoo said similar warnings were repeated in the commission’s 2012 report.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
6 4 Feb 2018's-water-crisis-highlights-city's-rich-poor-divide

Cape Town’s water crisis highlights city’s rich-poor divide

“Day Zero” is approaching as South Africa’s showcase city of Cape Town prepares to turn off most water taps amid the worst drought in a century. Tensions among the four million residents are highlighting a class divide in a country with one of the world’s highest rates of inequality.

Cape Town, a top international tourist destination, has both sprawling informal settlements and high-income oceanside neighborhoods. Some say poorer residents are unfairly blamed as concerns rise over wasting precious water. The military is prepared to help secure water collection points if “Day Zero” occurs.

The Associated Press is exploring how residents are coping as water restrictions tighten in an attempt to avoid the possible shut-off in mid-April, and it spoke with researchers about where the water usage problems lie.

Kirsty Carden with the Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town pointed to the city’s leafy suburbs. “It has been in the areas where people have gardens, they have swimming pools and they are much more profligate in the way that they use water, because they’re used to the water just being, coming out of the taps,” she said.

Some residents appear to be changing their ways, she said, but “there have been problems in the more affluent areas where people are just, ‘We’ll pay for it.’”

About a quarter of Cape Town’s population lives in the informal settlements, where they get water from communal taps instead of individual taps at home, Carden said. “And there are always pictures of running taps and broken fixtures and ‘Look at the leakage’ and all the rest. But the reality is that those 1 million people out of a population of 4 (million) only use 4.5 percent of the water.”

In one of the crowded settlements of corrugated-metal homes, resident Vuyo Kazi washed her laundry outside as others poured used water into the street.

“Before, I was using two kettles of water to wash myself,” she said. “So now I use one kettle of water.”

Under new water restrictions that began Thursday, residents are asked to use no more than 50 liters (13.2 gallons) of water daily, down from the previous limit of 87 liters (23 gallons). The use of city drinking water to wash vehicles, hose down paved areas, fill up private swimming pools and water gardens is illegal. Residents using too much water will be fined.

Across the city, in the seaside town of Scarborough, resident Kelson da Cruz demonstrated the new normal of water rationing, pointing out the bucket beside his shower. The city has even promoted a Two-Minute Shower Songs project by top South African artists to keep water usage down.

“We are restricted with an amount of the water that we can use per day,” da Cruz said. “So we collect that water, and that water you can use to flush the toilet.” Another jar of water is used for tooth-brushing and face-washing.

Some 70 percent of water used in Cape Town is consumed in homes, authorities say. Experts have said causes of the city’s water shortages include climate change and huge population growth. The local reliance on reservoirs, while projects such as desalination plants were largely left to the future, has been hurt by three straight years of drought.

Scientists are watching how authorities cope, as this would be the world’s first major city to go dry.

“We always open the tap, the water is there, easy,” da Cruz said. “I was lucky to travel to some dry countries where water has always been a big issue. So when we moved to South Africa that has always been on the back of our mind.

“And I think South Africa is for the first time is really catching up with the rest of the world. They have to change their habits. You can’t just take for granted something so precious.”

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
7 14 Feb 2018

South Africa has declared the drought which has seen Cape Town hurtling towards "Day Zero" a national disaster.

The government made the announcement after reassessing the "magnitude and severity" of the three-year drought.

It has badly affected three of the country's nine provinces.

The decision came as Cape Town announced its water saving measures, which require each citizen to use less than 50 litres a day, had successfully pushed back "Day Zero" to 4 June.

According to South African news website eNCA, the co-operative governance minister Des van Rooyen said last week more than 70m rand (£4.2m; $5.8m) had been put aside to tackle the crisis in the Western Cape, as well as in the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape, two provinces which have garnered less headlines, but are also struggling with the effects of the drought.

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
8 28 Feb 2018

As the day for Capetonians to queue for water is moved back to July 9, farmers in the Franschhoek area say they are already experiencing Day Zero.

Some farmers said on Monday that the water released from the Berg River Dam had been turned off. “We’ve been experiencing Day Zero for about three weeks and are in a predicament,” said Deon Steyn, who farms in the Hermon area.

According to Steyn, the farmers are allocated around 40% of water, but he said they hadn’t received theirs.

“The reason is because they have cut the water off, preventing it from flowing to our areas,” Steyn said.

Another farmer said some farms relied on that water and it had forced many to look for alternative water.

“Luckily we are able to assist each other. Some farmers will lend each other water when they need it,” Nelius van Santen said.

But the water that is left and not flowing with new water is left to stagnate, forming bacteria and possibly diseases.

“The water is dirty and green and is too unhealthy to drink,” Steyn said.

Agri-Western Cape spokesperson Jeanne Boshoff said producers in the Berg River region’s water quota had been entirely depleted since the end of January.

“Agriculture is allocated X amount of water, and the City of Cape Town is allocated X amount by the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

“Agriculture knew our reduced allocation would eventually run out and we managed it as effectively as possible.”

Boshoff said that due to the limited water, 50000 seasonal workers couldn’t be accommodated this year.

“While agriculture in the Western Cape has done its utmost to conserve its already reduced water allocation, other role-players have not managed their water allocation in the same way. The agriculture industry is the only industry in the world that supplies human beings with food and fibre,” Boshoff said.