Water shortage

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Poster issued by the Western Cape government calling for people to conserve water.

For the past year, there has been a severe drought and a resulting water crisis in Cape Town. This page will help describe and track the situation as it pertains to Wikimania 2018.

In a nutshell – fortunately the conference occurs during the rainiest season (July), however that is no guarantee the water crisis will be over. The team has been actively in touch with the conference venue, hotel and tourism officials to stay briefed on the situation. (Update as of February 21, 2018).

The Wikimania conference organisers will be monitoring the situation closely and will update the Wikimania wiki regularly.

Background[edit | edit source]

With four million inhabitants, Cape Town is one of South-Africa’s biggest cities and water levels are at an all time low. There has been very little rain in the catchment areas of Cape Town's main water storage dams for three years.

Reservoirs were holding 26.5% of their water capacity of water as of January 2018. Once that reaches a critical low of 13.5%, water will be cut off in most of the city. This so-called “Day Zero” was originally predicted for April 16th given current rates of consumption,[1] but has been postponed by more than 10 weeks to July 9 as Cape Town residents have drastically cut back in their water usage.[2] Wikimania will be held in mid-July, which is normally the wet part of the year in Cape Town, and if the drought breaks this year the problem may be over by then, but this is unpredictable and it is possible that the drought may continue for another year.

Conference venue and the Hotel's plan[edit | edit source]

Our contacts at the conference venue and accommodation tell us it will not impact the tourist locations we will be visiting. However they have also put in plans of their own to ensure that we will not be seriously impacted.

The Tsogo Sun Hotel chain who we are dealing with have a water conservation and storage plan that includes bringing in water from other locations and digging wells on their properties. The City of Cape Town has assured the public that the Cape Town Central Business District (CBD) where the hotel is located will not experience water cuts on or after Day Zero. Water in the CBD will come from a dedicated desalination unit near the harbour in addition to other sources.

Nevertheless, it will be very important to behave water-smart and be conscientious with the usage of water.

The City's plan[edit | edit source]

From now until Day Zero people are encouraged to save water wherever possible by limiting consumption to 50 litres per person a day.[1] After Day Zero regular citizens of Cape Town will be able to collect water at one of over two hundred water distribution points across the city where they will be allocated 25 litres of water per person per day. Security will be provided at each point to ensure an orderly collection of water.

To supplement the city's water supply the City has started tapping two aquifers and is in the process of installing three desalination plants.

What you can do[edit | edit source]

So here are a few tips:

  • Limit your showers to two minutes. If you can make it shorter than that, even better! (practice this back home!)
  • Wet yourself, turn off the shower while soaping up, rinse quickly and systematically, turn off the water and get out.
  • Limit your toilet flushes, where ever possible, to one flush a day. One toilet flush, on average, uses 12 litres of water.
  • Don’t leave the tap running while brushing your teeth
  • Don’t ask for clean bedding and towels every day (laundry uses a lot of water!)

Remember: an average person uses about 50 litres for a short shower: as of the 1st February 2018 the limit the Cape Town council put in is a usage of 50 litre per person per day. There are however people who use as little as 30 litres per day. Be one of them!

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Official status of the drought[edit | edit source]

Unofficial (Helpful?) suggestions[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Day Zero in The Guardian, 2 February 2018.
  2. Cape Town Pushes Back ‘Day Zero’ as Residents Conserve Water in The New York Times, 20 February 2018.