Cape Town residents' high water usage over this past week has brought "Day Zero" closer, by more than three weeks.
Day Zero is the day that almost all of the taps in the city will be turned off and people will have to queue for water at approximately 200 sites across the peninsula. Although some essential services will stay connected, almost all residential suburbs will be cut off.
"If water consumption continues to rise, together with the very hot windy conditions which increase evaporation losses, we can expect Day Zero to happen as soon as 18 March 2018. This is a terrifying prospect," said the City of Cape Town's Water and Sanitation Director, Peter Flower.
He said residential customers remain the largest portion of water users. "If we can bring consumption down to 500 million litres per day, we will be able to avoid Day Zero."
The total water storage has fallen by 1.1% and dam levels sitting stand at 33%. The city's overall water usage rose to 641 million litres per day.
"The city's teams are hard at work this festive season to ensure that the average response time to leaks or burst pipes is under two hours and that we maintain the advanced pressure management system that is limiting demand.
"We will also be rolling out an additional 40 000 water management devices from January onwards to high consumption households ignoring water restrictions. We have already installed more than 21 000 water management devices on the properties of high users to date and this will continue over December," said Flower.
In a bid to curb Day Zero, Level 6 water restrictions will come into effect from 1 January 2018 and all households who use more than 10.5 kilolitres per month will have a water management device fitted.
"Evaporation has been less than expected over the past week due to cooler temperatures, but as temperatures climb we can expect to see dam levels falling much faster. We've been lucky with extra rain and low evaporation so far, but the next few months will be brutally hot and there is almost no chance of rain," said Flower.
Capetonians can view their water usage on www.capetown.gov.za/dayzerodashboard and track their consumption.
Residents have been encouraged to log onto www.capetow.gov.za/thinkwater for more water-related information and for tips on how to save water.