There’s good news for the water-weary residents of Cape Town, where 4 million people living under severe-level water restrictions since February will see them ease at the end of September.
That’s because Cape Town’s dam system has recovered to a 71.5 percent capacity level, up from the dry and dire scenario that left Capetonians concerned they’d run out of water in April. The dam and reservoir system was at just 37.5 percent this time last year, when winter rains failed to replenish the water. This is the first time since 2015 that the system has reached 70 percent full.
This year tells a different story – there’s even more rain in the forecast – but the South African city remains cautious. When the restrictions return to Level 5 on October 1, and the dreaded Day Zero is no threat, they’ll still need to keep citywide consumption at 500 million liters per day.
That means personal water use will be up from 50 to 70 liters per day, which has its limits. A 90-second shower will typically use 18 liters, a toilet flush uses another nine, and the water adds up quickly so residential customers are encouraged to keep using greywater and rainwater for their toilets. Under the eased restrictions, there’s also no city water for lawn watering, car washing, children’s splash pools or fountains.
Commercial and industrial users that have lived with the 60 percent usage cap will now see it eased to 65 percent of their historical water use, and agricultural users that rely on city water will go from a 50 percent restriction to 60 percent usage.
Image: City of Cape Town file