Basically, Day Zero will not now happen in 2018, and probably not in 2019 either. Day Zero: the day the taps would be turned off in Cape Town, if the dam levels fell to 13%. See Day Zero and Day Zero – Update.
Weekly Drought Monitoring
This is because Cape Town received some rain this winter, mostly in May, with a little in June, virtually none in July (which used to be our wettest month!) and some this August, as you can see from the graph above.
Dam Levels 20 August 2018
The dams have just reached the 60% mark I was hoping for. Hooray! (You can see in the graph above that for this week in 2017 the dams were only 32% full!)
This puts us out of the danger zone for a while. The water should last us over the upcoming long, dry, hot summer months, until the next winter rains can be expected in May 2019.
However, all water restrictions are still in place and these are severe. Each person is allowed only 50 litres of water a day. Drinking water cannot be used for any purpose other than drinking and household requirements. You are not allowed to wash your car, water your garden or top up your swimming pool.
You can use grey water (dirty water, such as water already used for washing clothes or dishes, and unsuitable for drinking) to flush your toilets or water your garden.
Dam Levels 2014 to 2018
So what was all the fuss about then?
Well, if Capetonians had continued to use water at the rate we used to do, which was about 1.2 billion litres a day, we would definitely have run out of water (some time back in April this year). We now use about 500 million litres a day; a significant reduction.
There had to be “scare tactics” and strict regulations made. People who refused to reduce their water usage were heavily fined and had water metres fitted that would shut off the water supply to their property after their allotted amount was used up for the day.
If people had not been woken up to the facts and that queuing for water would be a very real possibility, most people would not have saved enough water. Sadly it is just human nature. “It rained yesterday therefore we have water.” “If there was a problem they’d switch the water supply off.” etc
What irked me in all this was the world view. I felt the rest of the world was pointing fingers at Cape Town and saying, “How could they be so stupid and not plan for this?”
I repeat again: It Did Not Rain!
2014 was fine, dams 100% full.
2015 less rain, but still fine.
2016 less rain again, but OK.
2017 hardly any rain at all!
As you can see from the graphs above and below.
Ten Year Graph of Dam Levels
Water Augmentation Projects were in place before the drought struck, but not for the immediate future, rather for 2020 to 2025. These projects are still underway with more proposed. Large desalination plants are very expensive! Water is being produced already, but nowhere near yet, to the 500 ML needed per day.
By now everyone is used to the small amount of water they’re allowed to use daily here in Cape Town.
But it would be nice to take a shower for more than 90 seconds or have a bath in more than 2 cm of water!
post script: The graphs shown here are for the week beginning Monday 20 August 2018. You can visit the City of Cape Town website for current information.