By Donna Westfall – February 8, 2018 – Here’s a scary thought. An entire city running out of water. The reality is that Cape Town, South Africa is facing “Day Zero” first predicted for March, then extended to April, but now they expect May is when the water gets shut off. It would affect up to 3.7 million people. But, because fruit growers and other agriculture operations have used up this years water allocation, it is giving the city a slight reprieve by 1 month… extending the turn off sometime in May. Urban usage has not eased up though. Severe drought conditions continue. Starting this month, residents can only use 13 gallons of water per day!
How did they get in such a predicament? Cape Town is an affluent area. The second largest city in South Africa. Here’s what happened. A huge influx of people moving there along with tourism combined with inadequate planning has left them in a terrible predicament.
When Los Angeles had year after year of droughts, residents worked together to conserve and it worked successfully. Plus, if they continued to be heavy users, they were hit with a fine. So, they could do it voluntarily or they could be forced. Fortunately for LA, they could import the majority of their water needs.
What will Cape Town do? While millions of gallons of water may be in their aquifers, digging for it isn’t a cheap proposition, however, it is the next logical step.
That’s not the only city that’s had to worry about enough water. Back in 2015, Sao Paulo, Brazil had daily water shutoffs and not just because of the drought. Their infrastructure was crumbling. Their city of 20 million saw the poor suffer the most because the rich could afford to build water tanks, or pay for private water deliveries. Children in the poorer areas went thirsty. Women were subject to more urinary infections. People became dehydrated. When areas experienced 12 hours at a time water shut offs, people became violent.
So far we’ve been lucky in Del Norte County/Crescent City. We do not have the same concerns. Rainfall, snow pack and rivers all enhance our area making it rare to run out of water. However, discussions should start now to create ordinances allowing rain barrels for private use in our area without any permits, taxation, or fees of any kind. It’s just good common sense that we look to the future to prevent any possibility of ever running out of water. With continued meetings concerning cannabis, when approved, the water usage is due to increase substantially once commercial operations are put into motion.