Deltalife 13

Deltares, spring 2020 34 Cape Town became a thirsty city in 2018. After a few years without rain, drinking water actually ran out as the population expanded exponentially due to the appeal of the city. The government responded with the Day Zero campaign. All water consumers had to be convinced about how threatening the situation was. Individual con- sumption was reduced to a maximum of 50 litres of tap water a day, as opposed to the pre-crisis average of 130 litres. Any additional supplies had to be obtained from a pump. This was Cape Town's new normal. But what if 'Day Zero' – a city without drinking water – were to become a reality? That catastrophe was averted. City residents and companies who could afford it dug their own wells to make up for the shortage of domestic water. Farms around the city offered water from their reservoirs and the rains came. The immediate threat was averted. At the time of the Day Zero campaign, Deltares got in touch with the Dutch consulate in South Africa. How can we help to establish more robust water sup- plies for Cape Town in collaboration with local partners? Joint solutions are currently being explored. Deltares also helped Cape Town with the development of 'Liveable Urban Waterways', a strategy to bring water back into the city and improve both water supplies and the quality of life. These approaches would now seem to be less urgent given the large amounts of rainfall (and flooding) during the past year. And particularly now, during the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, strategic water management is not a top priority. But Day Zero is still a threat hanging over the city: water management is a question of looking ahead, a long way into the future. Or, as Kevin Winter of the University of Cape Town argues: ‘Drought is a so-called silent killer. You don’t see it coming but suddenly it’s there and hits the most vulnerable groups the hardest.’ .' Photo: Getty Images For more information: Day Zero