The Guardian is reporting Cape Town’s leadership is preparing to be without water in what has become a losing battle against climate change. The city known as “The Mother City” and famous for it’s harbor and iconic Table Top mountain, is experiencing a drought unlike any other in the city’s recent history. Droughts like this are expected every 384 years but because climate change is happening so quickly, the drought has come much earlier. Cape Town has been suffering through a drought for the last three years which shows no signs of letting up. The Guardian reports:
“The head of Cape Town’s disaster operations centre is drawing up a plan he hopes he never has to implement as this South African city on the frontline of climate change prepares to be the first in the world to turn off the water taps.
‘We’ve identified four risks: water shortages, sanitation failures, disease outbreaks and anarchy due to competition for scarce resources,’ says Greg Pillay. ‘We had to go back to the drawing board. We were prepared for disruption of supply, but not a no-water scenario. In my 40 years in emergency services, this is the biggest crisis.’
The plan – being drawn up with the emergency services, the military, epidemiologists and other health experts – is geared towards Day Zero, the apocalyptically named point when water in the six-dam reservoir system falls to 13.5% of capacity.
At this critical level – currently forecast for 16 April – piped supply will be deemed to have failed and the city will dispatch teams of engineers to close the valves to about a million homes – 75% of the city.
‘It’s going to be terrifying for many people when they turn on the tap and nothing comes out,’ says Christine Colvin, freshwater manager for WWF and a member of the mayor’s advisory board.”
If Cape Town runs out of water, city officials will distribute bottled water at distribution points. They will not charge for the water which means billions in Rand will be lost.
“The total city budget is R40bn, so this won’t destroy us, but it will cause severe discomfort,” says the deputy mayor, Ian Neilson, who adds that he has not had a bath at home for a year. “A bigger concern is to ensure the economy doesn’t collapse. We need to keep business and jobs going … Clearly, there could be a severe impact. It depends on how long it continues.”
Read more on The Guardian.