As winter draws to a close in the Western Cape, Cape Town emerges from a period of excellent rainfall, with regional dams recording their highest levels since 2015. Water-saving efforts have kicked in and local residents can breathe a sigh of relief. Cape Town is open for business!
The past few years have seen Cape Town and the Western Cape experience severe drought. Dam levels dropped to worrying levels and the regional government implemented water restrictions to encourage a reduction in the overall household and commercial use. However, almost all dams are now at 100% capacity, with only one dam, which is the furthest from the city, below 60%. The result is that dam levels have now reached an average of 76%, which means that any possibility of running out of water has been pushed back almost indefinitely.
The drought was caused by a number of factors, the primary being a natural phenomena known as El Nino. Typically, increased water temperature over the Pacific Ocean leads to adverse weather and climate across the globe, with the Western Cape experiencing reduced rainfall as a result. This phenomenon usually lasts seven years, but extended cycles have been known to occur, often resulting in droughts such as the one experienced in Cape Town.
In response to this, government officials from the City of Cape Town employed a water reduction campaign known as #DayZero, which was ultimately so effective that local residents and businesses alike were able to half water consumption over a period of three years – from 1.2 million litres per day in 2015 to 512 million litres per day in July 2018. To put this into perspective, during a similar drought experienced in Melbourne, Australia it took 12 years to achieve the same feat while the state of California is still struggling with a drought several years on.
Overall, as dam levels continue to rise, with El Nino winding down and the Western Cape Government continuing to monitor the situation, the result is a far better water situation in Cape Town. Day Zero is no longer seen as a threat to local residents and visitors alike and Cape Town is gearing up for an absolutely amazing Summer!