Cape Town pushes possible tap closure on Day Zero to May

Cape Town has pushed back “Day Zero” — the date when it might have to turn off most taps because of a long drought — by nearly a month to May 11.

Cape Town authorities said Monday that the reprieve is due to an anticipated decline in agricultural use of water because many farms in Western Cape province, which includes the city, have used up water supplies allocated to them. Officials had previously projected “Day Zero” to fall on April 16.

In this Friday, Feb. 2, 2018 photo, Kelson da Cruz taps water from his self installed water tank in the seaside town of Scarborough, outside Cape Town. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Municipal officials, however, say city residents must stick to regulations requiring them to use fewer than 50 liters (13.2 gallons) per person daily to avoid the tap closure. They say seasonal rainfall expected to start around May is likely to be low.

From Cape Town’s elegant suburbs to its gritty townships, people are working to reduce their water consumption. People restrict how often and how long they shower, wash clothes and flush toilets in order to conserve water. Police are guarding some natural springs to avoid any scuffles over access to the increasingly precious liquid.

Cape Town's main water supply from the Theewaterskloof dam outside Grabouw, Cape Town, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Cape Town, a top international tourist destination, has both high-income oceanside neighborhoods and sprawling informal settlements. Some say poorer residents are unfairly blamed as concerns rise over wasting water. About a quarter of Cape Town’s population lives in the informal settlements, where they get water from communal taps instead of individual spigots at home. The 1 million people in Cape Town’s poor townships make up 25 percent of the city’s 4 million people yet only use 4.5 percent of the water, say water experts.

The use of city drinking water to wash vehicles, hose down paved areas, fill up private swimming pools and water gardens is illegal. Residents using too much water will be fined.

In this Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 photo, two men help each other carry water at a source for natural spring water in Cape Town. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Some 70 percent of water used in Cape Town is consumed in homes, authorities say. Experts have said causes of the city’s water shortages include climate change and huge population growth. The city’s reservoirs have been dried by three straight years of drought.

In the seaside town of Scarborough, resident Kelson da Cruz demonstrated the new normal of water rationing, pointing out the bucket beside his shower. Everyone is working to change their habits in order to save water, said da Cruz: “You can’t just take for granted something so precious.”

In this Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, Faldela Dixon talks to a customer at her flower shop in Cape Town. Dixon says customers don't buy as many flowers because of the drought, as they don't want to waste water to water the flowers. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A woman collects water in a settlement near Cape Town on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Residents queue to fill containers with water from a source of natural spring water in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A man collects water from a source of natural spring water in Cape Town, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A woman throws away used water in a settlement near Cape Town on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A Cape Town resident sorts out his containers as he arrives at a source of natural spring water in the city on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A man carries water at a source for natural spring water in Cape Town, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A police officer stands stands guard at a source of natural spring water as a man fills a container, in Cape Town, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

A woman brushes her teeth in a settlement near Cape Town on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

In this Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, a public pool in Cape Town has been closed for months due to a lack of water in the city. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, the city of Cape Town in South Africa is seen from a hilltop at sunrise. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, the city of Cape Town in South Africa is seen from a hilltop at sunrise. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)


Text from the AP news story, Cape Town pushes possible tap closure on Day Zero to May, by Bram Janssen.