After three years of unprecedented drought, the South African city of Cape Town has less than 90 days worth of water in its reservoirs, putting it on track to be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Unless residents drastically cut down on daily use, Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille warns that taps in the seaside metropolis of four million will soon run dry. On April 22nd, to be exact.
Is this a joke you’re probably thinking. . . And the answer to your question is? Nope. Day Zero, as it is called, is real, and is calculated every week based on current reservoir capacity and daily consumption. The city won’t literally run dry; in most cases, reservoirs can’t be drained to the last drop, as silt and debris make the last 10% of a dam’s water unusable. City authorities have decided that once the dams reach 13.5% capacity, municipal water supply will be turned off for all but essential services, like hospitals, hotels and more.
Cape Town law enforcement officials have issued fines to residents who have failed to comply with the new level 6B water restrictions, which kicked in on Thursday.
Under the new restrictions, water consumption is limited to 50 litres per person per day in the hope that Day Zero – the day the taps will be closed – can be avoided.
Samantha Reinders / for NBC News
Below is a map showing a three year span of Cape Town’s drought.
After three years of drought the Theewaterskloof Dam, the city’s largest reservoir which provides roughly half of its water, is at 13 percent capacity. NASA Earth Observatory