Facts about the drought in South Africa, will there be a #DayZero?



Update 29 June 2018: There will be NO DAY ZERO in 2019 and dam levels are actually up 75% compared to last year because we had a lot of rain the last few weeks.

Update: 22 May 2018: Cape Town is getting desalination plants left right and centre AND we’re getting a LOT of rain at the moment so don’t delay and come and enjoy Winter here which is still better than Summer in most West European countries. Book DIRECT flights from Amsterdam HERE.

It is all over the news: The drought in South Africa, when is day zero happening? Many news channels are reporting on the drought in South Africa and I also got stressed out for a bit. The drought in South Africa is real, dam levels are very low and the rainy season in Cape Town will only come around July. However, I feel it doesn’t help anyone to stress out about the situation. I didn’t run out to buy any water and I trust that the City of Cape Town will be very well organized IF day 0 is really going to happen. The Cape Town water shortage is real so we need to be vigilant about saving water as much as possible that for sure.

For 3 years there has not been enough rain which is one of the reasons why we have a drought now in South Africa, HOWEVER, it is not the WHOLE of South Africa that will supposedly be running out of water. It is only the Cape Town metro that is affected so badly that it supposedly will run out of water by the 9th of July 2018. So if you drive about 2 hours away from Cape Town, there are no residential water restrictions at all and only level 1 restrictions (Cape Town is on level 6 with maximum use of 50 liters per person per day). So when you read news on drought in South Africa make sure to understand that severe water restrictions are only implemented in the Cape Town Metro.
What are other reasons for the water shortage in Cape Town?


Population growth

According to this article that I found, the population of the Western Cape grows by 5.000 people per month by people who move here from other provinces. 62% of the SA population lives in urban areas of which Johannesburg and Cape Town are the biggest cities. People in search of better work opportunities move here. Somehow the government (provincial and/or national) has never made provision for the increasing amount of people who need water and electricity hence both systems are under major pressure and with 3 years of drought, water is running out, logically.

What is the good news?

The good news is that every citizen is doing their best to safe as much water as possible and yesterday there was the amazing gift of the farmers who donated tons of water to the City of Cape Town which pushed day zero from 16th of April to the 11th May. How amazing is that? I feel that this drought situation in South Africa will actually a great sense of community which is already showing.
The 11th of May is very close to hopefully a good rainy season but still we have to prepare for day 0 and keep saving as much water as possible.

What does it mean to live on 50 liters water per person per day?

My personal opinion is, is that 50 liters is still way too much and we can easily live on 25 liters per day so this is what I’ve implemented in my small household of Rosie and myself.
We capture all water of shower, washing machine, dish washing and use this for flushing the toilet 1 or 2 times a day. We shower with only a little trickle and I’ve managed to cut back on hair washing once a week. I used to do this every 2nd day. A shower is a short trickle to get wet, switch off shower, soap, short trickle to quickly wash away soap. Although I live in a flat and we don’t have individual water meters, my experience from the last 2 weeks is that we use water as follows:
Total use: 7 days x 25 liters x 2 persons = 350 liters per week
NOTE: We live in a flat with no garden, no pool and no plants.

How do we use 350 liters per week
2 loads of washing x 40 liters = 80 liters (captured for flushing)
3 loads of dish washing x 20 liters = 60 liters
4 liters x 7 days drinking water = 28 liters
10 liters x 7 days shower & personal hygiene = 70 liters (used for flushing)
5 liters x 7 days for cooking 35 liters
SUB-TOTAL 273 liters
Unexpected usage. This would be if Rosie has an accident and I need to do an extra washing or like last weekend when she was sick 4 x and I had to flush 4 times. 77 liters
TOTAL 350 liters

So is this difficult?

So far my experience is, it is not difficult and I find it an extremely good exercise to teach consciousness to my daughter. Rosie is totally involved and helps with all the buckets, it is fun to play with water obviously and it is done responsibly. She also goes to a green school where they get the kids very much involved.I love the fact that we start appreciating water so much. The other day when I washed my hair quickly under a thin trickle I felt I had been to a spa so fabulous and fresh I felt, it was wonderful to have that feeling and not take it for granted, really appreciating the value of water. Also I noticed that it only took 1 week to feel that my dirty hair was really not comfortable but the 2nd week, it already felt a lot better and not as bad so our hair and bodies get used to not washing it all the time.

How am I preparing for #dayzero?

I decided I just want to have 100 liters for the first few days and then I will just queue although I don’t believe that #DayZero will actually happen, I also don’t want to be ignorant. It will just be a job but I trust that all the authorities will pull together and that it will all be very well organized at the 200 water points. I got anxious too at some point but then I remembered all the commotion around the Soccer World Cup in 2010 and how the whole world was convinced that South Africa would never be able to pull it off and that the whole event would need to be moved last minute to another host country. Well, we all still remember this amazing event very well. South Africa hosted a fantastic event with very few incidents other than the loud and disturbing vuvuzelas so I’ve decided to trust all those in charge, trusting that they will make the right decisions, trusting that we will show our incredible community spirit and I’ve decided to only share positive messages instead of all the doom and gloom that is not helpful at all.

Follow the REAL news about the water shortage in Cape Town. Be aware that there’s a LOT of fake news going around which again is NOT helpful at all. Follow the pages of the City of Cape Town and real news sites to stay up to date.

Image by news24 web site


Book your hotel in Cape Town NOW. It might be a good time to get great deals because the hotel industry has been suffering big time from the international media who only writes about doom and gloom. Cape Town HAS water and tourists only use 1 – 2% so COME to this fantastic city!

Read another interesting blog from our friends at AWOLtours HERE. AWOL organizes great cycling tours and walking tours in and around Cape Town with super knowledgeable and fun guides.