World

Cape Town calls off drought 'Day Zero' for this year

Cape Town: South Africa's drought-stricken tourist metropolis Cape Town will not run out of water this year as previously feared, the city says.

The all-clear was given after new projections showed that, without rainfall, "Day Zero" - the day the city runs out of water - would be in August.

John Viljoen, a Bloomberg reporter, fills his toilet with used shower water, also known as "grey water" in Cape Town. Photo: Bloomberg

"As this date falls deep within the normal rainfall period, it is no longer appropriate to project the date without any consideration of rainfall ... Day Zero can be avoided completely this year," deputy mayor Ian Neilson said in a statement.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance (DA) party told a press conference on Wednesday that water consumption had declined steadily, and if it continued at this rate and the rains came, Day Zero would be avoided.

Cape Town, located in the southern hemisphere, is in mid-summer, with the rainy season expected to start in May.

The city is suffering its worst drought in recorded history, with the dams supplying the city with water about 23 per cent full, according to the city.

"Day Zero" had recently been predicted for July 9, although earlier this year, the city said it might have to stop water supply as early as mid-March.

However, residents continue to be limited to using 50 litres of water per person per day, with punitive tariffs for those consuming more than allowed, Neilson said.

"If winter rainfall this year is as low as last year, or even lower, we are still in danger of reaching Day Zero early next year," he added.

While reducing household consumption, the city is also implementing emergency and long-term plans to make additional water available through desalination, groundwater abstraction and water reuse.

DPA, Fairfax Media