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Drought-hit Cape Town cuts water usage as 'Day Zero' looms

South Africa

A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africa’s main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded “Day Zero” when Cape Town’s taps are expected to run dry.

On Tuesday the city of four million moved its estimate for “Day Zero” to July 9 from June 4 due to a decline in water usage, and after the Groenland farmers association also released 10 billion litres of water from their private reservoirs into the Steenbras storage dam.

Faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town have cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years.

In terms of how we use the water in the cafe we've made a massive effort in trying to use as little as possible.

“In terms of how we use the water in the cafe we’ve made a massive effort in trying to use as little as possible. So washing up sinks are really, really low, we don’t refill them often. We use it consciously and mindfully,” said Sonja Edridge, larder cafe owner.

A member of the Water Crisis Coalition said that amid the crisis, the city is currently drilling into an aquifer near the dry Theewaterskloof dam that will supplement the needs of residents.

“Under Theewaterskloof there is a massive aquifer, there is the Table Mountain group aquifer. There are aquifers that are spread from four hundred kilometers up the west coast down to the southern coast, five six hundred kilometers,” said a member of the Water crisis coalition, Shaheed Mohamed.

At the moment, restrictions make it compulsory for residents to use no more than 50 litres per person per day, as city officials look to see out the hot summer months into winter, when Cape Town usually gets rain.

To ease the pressure, a local business man, Lesley Khumalo opened an eco-friendly car wash, which trades water for an eco-friendly chemical that can remove dirt, four weeks ago to attempt to educate locals on innovative ways to manage the crisis.

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