Part 15 - Cape Town Water Shortage
While at this point in the trip report, I have now made it back to Johannesburg, I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect on the water shortage of Cape Town and share with you the efforts that have been taken as this is a very serious matter. When I had first heard about it a few months out from my trip to South Africa, I had seen that they were anticipating Day Zero (the day that they would have to shut off water supply to homes and people would have to report to pre-planned locations for their water rations) to be right around April, which was close to the time I would be there. There were also reports that buying water at stores was becoming harder as places sold out, so I certainly had some concerns going into this trip. In an effort to be a more mindful visitor of Cape Town, I took a personal effort to get into a habit of using less water during my shower by turning it off when putting on soap and shampoo. I began this maybe a month ahead of my trip, and now it has essentially become second nature, and I will likely do it even beyond this trip.
Fortunately, because of efforts to raise awareness of the shortage through campaigns and conservation efforts like those shown below, they had been able to push back Day Zero until at least June when I was within a couple weeks of my visit. I also found that there were no problems with finding places where I could buy bottled water, even getting a 5-liter jug for the apartment to refill my personal water bottle when there.
In talking to the Uber Driver who brought me to Ratanga Junction, whose name was Yusuf, he had shared with me that they were constructing at least two desalination plants in the area, but that there was worry about whether it was too little too late as their political leaders were told of this coming crisis but did nothing until more recently. In his mind, they should have begun the construction of the plants back when the alarms were first sounded about the coming shortage so that they possibly could have been up and running by now. But the way he saw it, because of the failings of their leadership the people are now having to make sacrifices. The campaigns and conservations efforts took on a wide range, from signs encouraging using less, to restrooms that had some or all of their taps shut off and hand sanitizer dispensers installed. Some of the specific examples those at the following locations….
At the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, along with their signs, they also cut down on some of their path and sidewalk cleaning, as evident by the areas of which were caked with bird droppings.
Table Mountain had their signage, along with the shutting off of the taps to the sinks, and the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers.
Inside of the restroom at the CBD Station for City Sightseeing Tours also had signage about the water shortage.
Ratanga Junction had signs encouraging less use, and even completely closed off some of the lesser used restrooms.
Inside of Century City, next door to Ratanga Junction, there were a multitude of signs, including electronic signs. And on one of the televisions, there was an ad that gave a sort of visualization of what it could be like if they hit Day Zero when the rationing of water would be needed.
During the walking tour in Cape Town, in a plaza across from the Dutch Reformation Church, a group had painted on the open plaza space encouraging better practices to save water.
The district Six Museum had removed the handle from the sink and replaced the soap with hand sanitizer, a practice taken at several venues and facilities that I saw throughout.
While it is unfortunate that this issue seemed to be ignored early on, it is now widely known, and I hope that it could possibly serve as a warning to other major cities around the world to monitor their water supplies and perhaps curb the amount of wasted water. I hope that this issue will be able to be resolved for the sake of the people of Cape Town, as I would like to see it overcome this challenge and thrive as it was truly an amazing city. One in which I would come back to visit if the opportunity for it arises.
The good news as that as of the writing of this update, it does appear that the conservation efforts are paying off, and that the dams and water reserves are starting to fill back up as they are getting some rain, with the experts anticipating that Day Zero now would likely not occur until 2020. So hopefully the trend of improvement continues for Cape Town.
Up Next, it's time for a tour around the city of Johannesburg with an old friend!
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home
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