Day Zero for Cape Town

Despair and Hope Affecting Cape Town’s Day Zero

It’s a truly, deeply scary thought, but thus far (early February 2018), Day Zero seems to be looming for residents of South Africa’s beautiful, most iconic Cape Town. This must be one of the most dreaded and feared days in Cape Town’s latter-day history.

Obtaining Fresh Water in Cape Town – or Not

It’s an irony that this magnificent city was established as a feeding and supply station for the ships and seamen of the Dutch East India Company in 1652. Filling the ship’s containers with fresh, potable water was a vital part of taking fresh supplies on board, without which these long voyages would be completely impossible.

Yet now, in the 21st century, just less than five and a half centuries later, Cape Town is almost without fresh water, the very essence of life and sustenance; this despite all our advanced technology, sophisticated lifestyles, and high expectations.

When a Human Right is Inconsequential

Then, there’s another, somewhat serious, possibly contentious observation. This country has one of the finest, fairest, and most progressive constitutions in the world. Accordingly, access to fresh, clean potable water is said to be a human right. Also, ironically, even cynically, this is of no consequence when there simply is no more water to be had in Cape Town.

Drought and Undue Interference

The extreme, thus far unheard-of shortage is due to long, harsh, and severe drought conditions and, according to some experts, among them Professor Anthony Turton, an undue amount of political interference with the process of planning for and circumventing this feared day – Day Zero. This is the day when the taps run dry in Cape Town.

Professor Turton predicted a looming water crisis as early as 2008, when South Africans were sorely tested during an electricity supply crisis, now ten years ago. However, South Africans who have woken up to the reality and severity of the water situation, are doing what this country’s citizens have been good at since 1652 – “ons maak ‘n plan” (we make a plan; in this case, several plans).

Immediate Plans and Hopes

  • Desalination of sea water.
  • Supplementing water supply from subterranean sources.
  • Curbing the use of water wherever possible.
  • On the 7th of February 2018, a substantial volume of water was released by the Elgin/Grabouw farmers for short term supplementation of Cape Town’s water supply.
  • Health facilities’ water supply will be prioritised.

Lastly, but most importantly, Cape Town residents and the entire South African population sincerely hope and wish that the Cape winter rains arrive early, are plentiful, and last throughout the rainy season, thereby relieving this crippling drought and its frightening impact – Day Zero.

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