[Update] Cape Town Water Crisis ‘Day Zero’ Moved Back 5 Weeks to July 9th

CAPE TOWN (28 February 2018) – For the second time in a month, the feared Day Zero for the water supply for Cape Town has been moved back. In our previous article on the South African water crisis published on February 16, we reported that Day Zero – the day when Cape Town would no longer be able to supply potable drinking water through its water system – had been moved to June 4 from April 12. July 9, 2018, is now the new Day Zero.

The water crisis has come about by a combination of rapid population growth outstripping the infrastructure’s capacity and a prolonged period of drought. The increased demand and the diminished supply have dropped reservoir levels to record lows. While some residents may be breathing a collective sigh of relief, the situation is still considered a National Disaster. The public is suffering inconveniences and, in some cases, hardships that are expected to last for some time to come.

Water usage restrictions have been and will continue to be in place. Depending on the community, (e.g., Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, or others) household usage may be limited to 50-60 liters per person per day. Assuming that a single toilet flush may use 15 liters, four flushes per person per day alone could exceed the local restrictions. Regional and municipal water systems are imposing Value-Added Taxes on residents and businesses for every liter used exceeding the imposed limits.

The VAT can become burdensome to low and moderate-income families, directly and indirectly. When business expenses increase, those businesses increase consumer prices in order to maintain margins adequate to remain profitable and operational. The creates a double whammy when residents buy groceries and other products.

Some communities like the towns of Hankey and Patensie have already used their entire water quotas for the period ending June 30th.

One source estimates that only a tenth of the residential and commercial population are complying with usage restrictions. Port Elizabeth’s mayor has announced that water meters are being installed where water has been “free-flowing” and that restrictor devices will be installed at “homes and business identified as consuming excessive amounts of water.”

The crisis is not over. There is still a Day Zero. It is now four months away, but now is the time to pray.


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