Late last year, as the South African government faced the prospect of its largest city running out of water, they took an unprecedented gamble.
|Township children celebrate Cape Town’s temporary victory over drought.|
The government announced “day zero” – a moment when dam levels would be so low that they would turn off the taps in Cape Town and send people to communal water collection points.
This apocalyptic notion prompted water stockpiling and panic, caused a drop in tourism bookings, and raised the spectre of civil unrest.
It also worked. After years of trying to convince residents to conserve, the aggressive campaign jolted people into action. Water use was (and still is) restricted to 50 litres per person per day. (In 2016, average daily per capita use in California was 321 litres.) Households that exceed the limit face hefty fines, or having a meter installed in their home that shuts off their water once they go over.
Read the story by Krista Mahr from The Guardian - “How Cape Town was saved from running out of water.”