CAPE TOWN – Officials have deferred what was once considered the impending Day Zero for Cape Town water supplies from July 11th until an undetermined date in 2019. The news has left the public and much of the news media scratching their heads and wondering why. As far as anyone can tell, nothing has changed. Water is still being rationed at Level 6B. There has been no significant rainfall, and dams and rivers are drying up. The reservoir contained by the Berg River Dam, one of Cape Town’s water sources, is now a bed of sand.
The situation is reminiscent of King Mongkut’s musical lament, “A Puzzlement,” in the Rogers and Hammerstein musical, “The King and I.”
There are times I almost think
Nobody sure of what he absolutely know
Everybody find confusion
In conclusion, he concluded long ago
In fact, multiple sources are reporting that matters have gotten worse.
On March 12th, dams providing water to Cape Town were at 23.05% of their capacity.
On March 19th, the dams contained only 22.4% of their total capacity.
Further complicating matters, water usage has increase by 54 million liters per day since the deferment was announced. That is an increase of 10.6%.
Day Zero was defined by Cape Town as “the day when dam levels reach 13.5%.” A reliable monitoring source is predicting that, given current and predicted conditions, the dams will reach Day Zero on May 26, 2018. That same source is predicting that water levels will reach 10% by June 21st.
The confusion is compounded by a dissonance from public officials. The head of the local Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Commission has said “Saving water remains crucial because we cannot rely on winter rainfall.”
The city’s Deputy Mayor, on the other hand, has said that if there is no rain during the upcoming winter season, “Day Zero could happen on August 27.”
Some factions are claiming that the deferment has been politically motivated. That would be the case if the deferment was announced to minimize Cape Town becoming the poster child for the World Water Forum which is meeting this week in Brasilia leading into World Water Day March 22nd.