Cape Town is running out of water | AJ+

Cape Town is running out of water | AJ+

Cape Town is running out of water. After
three years of unprecedented drought, it could be the first major city in the
world to go dry. And nearly a dozen more around the world are facing the same risk. This is supposed to be Cape Town’s main dam, but it’s looking more like a desert. Did the city of Cape Town fail to act early enough? It’s always easy in retrospect, to say, well, we could’ve started earlier. If “Day Zero” arrives, the South African city of 4 million will shut off the taps for all
but essential facilities, like hospitals. In a region defined by deep racial and
economic disparity, the threat of dry taps is highlighting the stark divide
between the haves and the have-nots. But in the end, everyone in Cape Town could be left without water. We’re in Newlands, which is an affluent suburb at the slope of Table Mountain. Its natural spring has always provided water for local residents, but
now thousands come from miles away, as early as 5 a.m., to fill up their jugs.
This is now a common sight in Cape Town. Long lines at one of the city’s natural
springs, where people are collecting fresh water in an attempt to conserve
the ever-scarce municipal water coming from the tap. It’s a time-consuming but
cost-effective alternative to buying water. How worried are you about Day Zero, when the taps might run dry? Some enterprising Capetonians are turning crisis into opportunity with online offers to “deliver” water for those willing to pay.
Others are selling rainwater collection tanks, and installing water collection
systems in homes. It’s smart business, since water, especially bottled, has been
in high demand. When Day Zero appeared imminent, bottles would sell out in stores. Now, many Capetonians have settled into the realization that conservation is their new way of life. Scenes like this are not what most
outsiders think of when they hear “Cape Town.” The coastal city is better known as
a tourist destination, with multi-million dollar beachfront properties. But three
years of unprecedented drought and rapid population growth, coupled with
inadequate planning, have plunged this paradise into panic. This is Cape Town’s
main reservoir, supplying more than half of the city’s water.
I should be underwater right now but as you can see there is none in sight. The
reservoir is down to just 10% of its capacity. The last 9% of the
water is unusable because of the high mix of sand in it, making it almost mud.
The winter rainfall runs from May to August. But rain alone is unlikely to
save Cape Town. Instead, city officials are instructing residents to limit their
daily water use per person to 50 liters – or 13 gallons – a day.
There are signs all around town reminding people to conserve, and some
public spaces have already shut off their taps. So as you can see in this
public restroom, there’s signs saying that washing hands is prohibited. In fact,
the fixtures on all the sinks are removed, and over here there’s a sign
that says, that “Due to the current water crisis, showers and some taps have been
disconnected.” In February, farmers opened their dams to allow about 2.6 million gallons of water to flow to the drought-stricken city. Such combined
efforts have helped to push back Day Zero. but the doomsday remains a moving target – in a city where a water crisis only highlights the deep disparity
between residents. What’s now considered the “new normal” for all Capetonians is
everyday life for black residents living in townships. Under the apartheid system,
blacks were forced to live in barren, under-resourced communities called
“townships” – like this one, where they continue to live today. Shepherd is
among the 25% of Capetonians who live in townships, all of which combined use
less than 5% of the city’s water. They don’t have taps in their homes, or
toilets or showers. So every time you need to get water, this
is what you do? What about when you want to wash yourself, shower? How many times a day do you do this? Or how many times a week? 20 times a week? Yes. I asked Shephard to show me how he fills what he calls his “bath.” You fill half this up? Do you feel like, now that everybody in Cape Town is suffering from a water shortage, that the richer people and the white people are getting a glimpse into your experience? Townships already experience regular water shutoffs, and city officials say they’ll be exempt from a citywide shutdown on
Day Zero. The city’s conservation campaigns are instead targeted at
suburbs, which are among the most water-wasteful. They’re also where most white residents live. Anita Shapiro is doing her best to meet
the city’s water guidelines. Her family doesn’t water their lawn or fill their
pool, and have learned to collect rainwater. Did you know any of this before you – No, no. So you basically had to learn the piping – Yes. The water infrastructure of this
whole house. Anita’s home has more conservation signage than most public facilities. She also uses wet wipes instead of washing her hands. If it’s
yellow, lets it mellow, takes short showers and collects the “gray water” to flush the
toilet with. Her neighbors have also drilled a borehole and let her draw
groundwater from it. How do you feel about the fact that Cape Town has gotten to this point of severe water shortage? It’s quite shocking, I think, to to first contemplate the thought of there being no water in
taps. I mean, you grew up with this magic, that you open a tap and there’s water, and suddenly you have to realize it’s not magic. There’s politics behind it, there’s dams behind it, there’s engineering behind it, and people have failed us. The local government has failed us, the national government has failed us. Officials are now scrambling to construct three expensive but temporary small-scale desalination plants that would purify seawater into drinkable
water delivered through taps. A two-year plant seems kind of just like a band-aid and not a long-term solution. So this is like buying time in a very expensive way? But knowledge of the impending crisis goes back decades. So why is the city only now taking serious action? I asked the deputy mayor, who was recently put in charge of dealing with the water crisis. I went to the Theewaterskloof dam
yesterday. I saw how shockingly empty it is, but that didn’t happen overnight.
So did the city of Cape Town fail to act early enough? It’s always easy in retrospect, when you know that you had that situation, to say, well, we could have started earlier. And obviously, if we had started earlier, we would have been in a
more comfortable position. But we would still have to be in a position where we
had very significant water restrictions in order to to get through this period of crisis. During my time here, the drought was declared a national emergency. There are skeptics who say that the Democratic Alliance, which runs
the city of Cape Town, waited for things to get this bad in
order for the national government, run by the ANC, to come and shoulder the burden. What do you say to that? Well, I mean, that’s pathetic, to be honest.
You know this crisis came upon us through the lack of rainfall, and
everyone has acknowledged for the last three years that there is an
inadequate rainfall. The national government in terms of the South African
constitution, is responsible for bulk water supply. So it has been their
responsibility to step up to the plate. In the meantime the city is taking
additional steps including lowering the pressure in its water system, installing
larger desalination plants, tapping into aquifers and mountains for groundwater
and turning wastewater to drinking water. So we went from 3 million people to 4
million people overnight. And so, the ability of the city to service people
is stretched because you have this massive growth in population, but there’s
a lag in the economic growth. What’s happening here in Cape Town can’t be dismissed as unique. Only 3% of the water covering the Earth’s surface is
freshwater. And already more than a billion people around the world live in
water-scarce regions. The UN has projected that the global demand for
freshwater will exceed the supply by 40% in 2030, and that’s due to
population growth, climate change and human action. Meanwhile in Cape Town, as the city struggles to push back Day Zero, its citizens are forced to change their relationship to water and how they use it, possibly forever. Hey guys, it’s Dena here at Cape Town’s main reservoir. That’s what’s going on with the water crisis here. Watch our next video where you see what it means to live on 50 liters of water a day. Be sure to like, comment, and share this video. Subscribe to AJ+ and check out more of my reporting: Direct From.

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About the Author: John Markowski


  1. Is this about to much water demand coming from a population growth of extremely poor people or too many gluttonous new comers filling their swimming pools and watering their huge lawns ? The bigger picture that doesn't lie is the view from above. Some will be inconvenienced while the poorest people die off never to complain again.

  2. I have been researching and talking to South Africans about politics, current events, and daily life their because one day I would like to move to Cape town or Johannesburg. I found this video very one sided and blown out of proportion. I feel for the citizens because their government is known to be one of the worst, especially for a decently developed country. South Africa is a very new country and is developing technology, architecture, and education faster than its people and government are developing, so it has an illusion of being white-ruled and biased when actually it's pretty racist towards the minorities. The country kept segregation, something that started when they were a British colony, until the 1990s about 30 years after their independence. So the people that lived before the 1960s are still alive today hating white people and governing the country.

  3. 20 years now """" blacks """" have been in charge why blame whites? Such a biased show- there's a white genocide going on in South Africa 70,000 whites murdered promoted by the black ANC party which runs the government

  4. It's whites building the plants – the minority of the country that's being persecuted

  5. The white neighbor hood are living good. What a shame they are hogging all the water from the minority communities

  6. These racist have nots, have opportunity to rebuild communities by abandoning hatred example. Working together, @Dena . Same Paradise Island preference making Gaza as well as West Bank difficult issue why one pushing button❌realistic. 13 Gallons shared per 1 person with a Family 5 adds up. Easily to 75 gallons. 50 gallons 189 Litere . Water shortage is not a White or Black hatred. It's a World Wide conservation process. They focus promoting solving water crisis instead friends opportunity to hate blame. We can focus on Water issue as World population growth as always understood. 12 Cities to go This garbage Almost Black People Or almost White People issue. Educated people versus uneducated people serious problem . Rich people or poor people, stupidity deserve resolution, together.

  7. This is all true but we are alot more comfortable than you think. Most have adapted easily and we have measures in place to save and reuse water. Water still comes from our taps although there are some times where they shut it off for 1-3 days, then my dad and brothers fill water at the springs and from our JoJo tank. We're concerned about the water level but as of right now it's mostly added manual labor.(carrying 25ltr water containers is tough)

  8. 8:03 if u asked the same question to the indian government in any town any state any Municipality they will transfer the blame to previous government and would say they inherited the same

  9. In india many cities have the same situation they use private boring (ground water) to live on…. Got don't provide water and i am talking abou top 200 city of the india

  10. No, we're not… we just had an extremely wet winter with loads of rain. Our drought has broken. I live here. This video is old. We had floods of water. Loads of rain. God sent the rain! The same thing happened to Joburg a few years ago. We're all good.

  11. Once the water runs out, Cape Town will turn into a violent war zone that rivals even Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chicago.

  12. I pumped water by hand for 5 months last year for myself, my mother, and 80 chickens; I got to say walking down the street would have been a god send.

  13. So then, with the end of apartheid the economy goes into a tail spin, SA becomes a major food importer instead of an exporter and there are water and service shortages? See the correlation here?

  14. Tribe of Judah's land is literally desolate. People who do not belong there are residing. All that was conspired and every bloodline who partook in our oppression must suffer equal consequence at the appointed times. I see everything as spiritual. Every continent will regurgitate us from all 4 corners of His footstool: earth. Even then, you will try to ruin the apple of His eye. His bloodline. #roost?

  15. when you ask cape townians by the newlands FREE water… why didnt they go before to get free water… most will tell you it was a mission. the years of water we all wasted is now showing how we didnt listen. cape town city has told us to save water for YEARS

  16. OH BOY now you go the racial line. please now you have caused false narratives. i am white but the water bill is R43/litre over the max allowed limit of 6000ltrs per month.

    such rubbish rich and white and black and privlidged!

    why does the media feel the need to always make it a racial thing?

    poor journalism

  17. just keep poppin out kids everyone til the earths super overpopulated.. 20 more years just wait.. think its bad now.. just wait you sheep

  18. just one winter and we have above our norm amount of water, there is more to this then what gets presented. here is the flow on 1 September 2018

  19. Madam Rania, preschool pressures customaries with living Goddess as well as, living God marriages. A Grammy Goddess introducing Fluent Arabic language before her Husband,.

  20. LOL, business is booming !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Thanks to incompetent actions from the corrupt government.
    But no worries, it will get worse.

  21. Do what the city of San Diego did and build a ocean desaltanation plants on the coasts get underground canals from Johannesburg to cape town get nestle to help or aquafina

  22. This is what criminally corrupt and incompetent government leads to. If people do not fight back against the politicians this is what you get.

  23. OMG these people are stupid. Every time something happens they blame it on white people…Of course, white people are gonna be richer a white woman has less than 3 children is educated and has a job and families have income from 2 people, not 1. While black families neglect things like education and just say that having 5 children or more is their culture….An uneducated woman makes uneducated and closed minded kids. I have seen multiple times how they spend their time trying to blame their problems on white people. I am white we are not privileged as people from minorities claim we are. It's just how you would prefer to think at night so that you can have some comfort after spending your day thinking how your life could have been and what you could do and why you can't do it and you just ended it with thinking if I was white I would have been blah blah blah being white must be easy. Nobody is stopping you from becoming someone amazing only you! Nothing is stopping you. You just find lame excuses. I know what being poor is like. My mom worked and studied at university and had my brother all at the same time. She failed job interviews multiple times but did not quit. This victim mentality will only make you miss a lot of opportunities. You need to stop thinking that you were not hired because you were black,woman,short or ugly because it's not that deep trust me. The reason why we Europeans live more well off is that we constantly study and work all the time. My mom took another banchelors degree to be a teacher at 43 while working and is a university student with me so we study together. That's what we do to get this comfort and opportunities we constantly add new skills so that we can work more things. It's not like we are all born rich most of us take loan and work while studying and stud other languages that we can put in our CV. It's constant studying and there will always be someone better than you but you have to keep going.

  24. The DA has been pulling a water scam on the population of Cape Town to control them and they havebeen making billions in profit ,alsio they have allowed the white minority farmers to hoard all the water until National government compelled these DA capitalist thieves to release those o the majority non whitesDA are big Capitalist scamsters.and landgrabbers and thrive on fearmongering.

  25. Ok…i don't get it… if there is major immigrant floods in Cap town and immigrant floods in america and immigrant floods in europe amd immigrant floods in Sweden and immigrant floods in isreal and immigrant flood in Ect….where are all these damn immigrants migrating from? Im curious so that we can go back to their abandoned countries and get the water supply they are leaving behind and lets also ask if immigrants are trying to flee for a better way of life only to flood a city that is in risk of dying of lack of water….how does that make sense to migrate? Almost seems to me as if we are being deliberately piled on ontop of each other and making it seem we are overpopulated and our earth is dying and cant provide to the billions of humans on earth……no no no my fellow humans. Earth is plentiful its the evil that is removing our resources from us and hoarding it to themselves and killling us to depopulate whike gettting rich from our rightfully owned water and land. Its a conspiracy come to reality. Government has ability to eliminate clouds that create rain and many other powers to control our weather…look up cloud seeding

  26. I find the argument that the DA predicted 3 years of rdrought in order to force the government to step in a bit farfetched…

  27. Is that only the whites that get water and live with green trees and grass or is it a case that these perticular white people have the money to order the things that want and need.. The way you talk about “the white people” kind of offends me. Not all white People are racist ,ignorant ,selfish ,un- empathic, uncompassionate, unmerciful people. Today is should be labeled as old days white people. If some people hate all white people in reguards then they are the ones that’s racist. If this doesn’t stop soon I’m afraid of certain white people that are tired being made to feel guilty as long as they live are gonna retaliate. Black/colored really need to stop rubbing this in the faces of the white race that had nothing to do with how the blacks, Irish, Jewish, Polish were treated in the past.. I’m not a racist but I am against people that try to keep the ball rolling because they have no forgiveness in their heart. I am Irish and Indian. Both my ancestors were slaved and slaughtered by Old Days whites..

  28. The water did not dry up just like here in tbe USA the hover dam did not dry up the wather was just transferred to underground tunnels they have been building for the past 20 years to try to prove there globle warming BS some countrys you can't hold people at gun point but you can dry them out

  29. The Government has all the power to change things but nothing was done. Population also tripled in a few years.

  30. As soon as I heard "but white people have water" I laughed so hard, yeah we can actually take care of our environments unlike you, try it sometime XD Qatari government = anti west government. Don't bother with bias.

  31. GOOD ! STOP SENDING FOOD AND WATER THE SAME FOR AFRICA, INDIA AND CHINA! THEY GET RESOURCES AND MAKE MORE BABIES WHEN THE COUNTRY AND THE LAND CAN'T CONTAIN IT! KICK THE ONES OUT OF EUROPE AND SEND THEM BACK TO AFRICA AND INDIA LET THEM FIX THERE OWN PROBLEMS AND LEARN A RULE STOP FU..CKIN..G AND START CLEANING and learning some things like one child and stop taking numbers 1 and 2 in the water or in the street or better yet kill 500 million people and you will have way more resources because less will be needed. I am just waiting for that war that will be because of india, china and africa ( it is not like they have the tools or resources for war )

  32. Why are these people still living under the same conditions as they were during apartheid? How many years has it been?

  33. It’s dangerous to make the situation a racial one. It is a human crisis. To say a particular ethnic group is suffering less than another should not be the focus of this crisis. A solution to the problem should be your focus with an emphasis on long term plans to evert such a crisis in the future.

  34. Would have started getting water from Ocean like California has done for years they have boilers just like the navy does and AZ is starting a project doing the same it’s called desulion we take the salt out of salt out of the water. And get rid of bottle water it a waste

  35. What a poor claim, that everyone will be without water. How do you come you with this? You really claim, that or just trying to get views to your videos? just downvoted this BS.

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