Cape Town’s Water Crisis: What You Need to Know

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Cape Town, South Africa

When the news broke that Cape Town is experiencing its worst drought in over a century, media outlets the world over made it sound like Cape Town was to be the first real-life venue of the coming apocalypse. But while there is certainly room for concern, and a nasty shortage that requires a drastically decreased water consumption, the truth is a little less Mad Max, and a little more Hope Springs.

Currently, there is a huge fight going on amidst the Western Cape’s ruling party, the Democratic Alliance, regarding the announcement of the water crisis, and whether or not it was handled efficiently and with enough sensitivity.

The need to save water was by all means urgent, but it would seem that there were a few factual errors that occurred when telling the general public about the water shortage. Cape Town has now managed to achieve what seemed impossible only a few months ago. We are now consuming the same amount of water we last did in the mid 90’s, at a time when there were way less inhabitants.

While this is by no means a sign that our dry spell is nearing an end, it is mild cause for celebration as we are inching closer and closer to our target of 450 million litres a day. So in actuality, things are on the up and looking way better than it did a while back.

If you or your loved ones are thinking of coming to Cape Town, here are a few facts for you to consider:

  • Tourism does not burden the city of Cape Town. Even during peak season times tourists only account for around 1% of the city’s population.
  • Yes, you will have drinking water.
  • Yes, you will be able to shower and use the toilet.
  • No, you will not die a dry and sandy death, it is a ‘wet drought’ meaning that most vegetative life is still very much in tact. The same unfortunately cannot be said for many of the agricultural pockets in the Western Cape, as they are experiencing tough times due to a lack of irrigation.
  • But, you will still have plenty of access to food so don’t worry about that.
    Cape Town’s tourism accounts for some 300, 000+ jobs and in a country with terrible poverty rates, those jobs are very necessary.

If you’re wondering how you can help when visiting our beautiful city, then read on traveller!

Take 90 second showers. This might seem like a tough one, but see it as a fun traveling challenge that you can brag to your friends back home about.

  1. Have you seen Meet the Fockers? Remember that part when Ben Stiller’s dad says that infamous ‘if it’s yellow, let it mellow’ line? Here’s a link to refresh your memory, and yes the same rules apply here.
  2. If you’re staying in an AirBnB or have the opportunity to ask around in your hotel, get a bucket and catch some of your shower water so that you can use that to flush your toilets.
  3. Wait until you have a full (FULL!) load before you do laundry.
  4. Don’t brush your teeth while the tap is running.
  5. Save water, drink beer!

All in all, while we have to be mindful of our current situation, Cape Town is still one of the best places to visit on Earth, and you definitely won’t miss out on any of the amazing things the city has to offer, come drought or high water!

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