Authorities in the drought-stricken South African city of Cape Town have told residents that it is “now likely” that water supplies will be cut because of dwindling levels in dams serving the country’s second-largest metropolis.
Cape Town will impose tighter water restrictions starting February 1, limiting each resident to 50 litres a day, compared with 85 litres now, it said in a statement Thursday. Authorities said earlier this week that they currently estimate “Day Zero,” the date when the city estimates it will have to cut off supplies to consumers, to be April 21.
The city has “reached a point of no return,” with about 60% of residents failing to meet existing curbs on water use, it said. The new limit will be in place for 150 days and then reviewed. Major dams in the Western Cape province that supply the city have dropped to 28.7% of capacity compared with 43% a year ago and 93% in 2014, figures on the city’s website show.
“It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero,” the city’s media office said in a statement. Many of the city’s four million residents are “callously” using too much water, it said.
Consumption was 618 million litres a day last week, compared with the target of 500 million set by authorities. January, February and March are typically among the driest of the year in the city, which usually gets its heaviest rainfall in June, July and August.
Cape Town’s central business district will be excluded from the “Day Zero” measures to reduce harm to the local economy, as will areas of informal housing that lack standard city services. City lawmakers will vote Friday on plans to impose increased charges for water of as much as seven times for the heaviest users.
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