Following on from Dave Kennedy’s excellent post from the other day, apparently Cape Town is in the throes of its worst drought in over 100 years (link). The Globe and Mail mentions uncited calculations placing the drought as a one in a thousand year event.
Be that as it may, the city Mayor is warning that on April the 21st, the plan is to simply shut off much of the city’s water supply and set up 200 collection points where the city’s 3.7 million residents can queue to collect daily water rations. That’s a whopping 18 000+ people per collection station collecting a ration of 25l of water each. Every day. (This link covers the nuts and bolts of what “Day Zero” is going to mean, but given it’s from November, “Day Zero” was then set for May, not April) Being carless in Cape Town is suddenly going to be a huge handicap if this thing comes to pass.
Of course, it could be that the ~60% of the city’s residents who have ignored appeals to use less than 87l of water per day, reckon winter rains will rain and everything will be fine. And they could be right. It may well be that the city authorities are over reacting. But with dams predicted to drop below 13.5% of capacity by April (13.5% being the trigger for “Day Zero”), and winter rains not normally landing until around May/ June, according to Cape Town’s wikipedia page, it could be they’re taking a bit of a reckless punt.
Plans to charge a levy on all water users were dropped after a public outcry, and current plans to charge a levy on high use only will get voted on tomorrow. The proposed levy will only kick in on excess use beyond 6000l per month though, or (roughly) 200l per day. Which given that people have been asked to use no more than 87l, imposing a levy at 200l seems a bit of a high threshold.
The Mayor, expressing what I imagine is frustration, and maybe a little fear too, has told a press briefing –
“It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care and are sending all of us headlong towards Day Zero.”
Oddly, this site, ostensibly set up to inform people, claims the current situation has been caused by two factors – El Nino and a growing population. No direct mention then, of global warming. And one page of the site contains a prediction, made from 25 years of regional weather, that rain will fall on or around the 18th of April.
The fact that last link came out high up in a google search nestled among press reports, is slick, and that I can’t readily see who’s behind it, is somewhat disconcerting. It seems denial never dies and may even become more entrenched, the more obvious a situation appears to be.