12 February 2018

South Africa: From the Inside - #DayZero - Turning a Probability Into a Possibility

opinion

Thanks to the lowest average water consumption since the early 2000s, Day Zero has been pushed back, meaning it is now possible, rather than likely. But this is no reason for complacency.

A week of positive progress in managing the drought crisis in Cape Town saw Day Zero retreat from being a "probability" to a "possibility".

In practical terms this means that the date on which dams are expected to drop to 13.5% and people have to queue for water rations because suburban taps are turned off has moved back 25 days, from 16 April to 11 May.

That is not enough. The heavy winter rains (if they come at all) usually begin in mid-June. But any movement in the right direction is important now to reinforce the notion that we can defeat Day Zero.

The risk is that good news may make us complacent.

It is, therefore, important to understand why we made progress this week, and how easily this trend can be reversed. The positive news was the result of two developments:

Lower water-use, occasioned both by behaviour change and intensive "throttling" which saw the City of Cape Town reduce water pressure across the city; and

The total...

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