South Africa Approaches Day Zero

Cape Town water shortage.
People are limited in how much water they can use in Cape Town, South Arica.

Have you ever tried to reduce your water use? Maybe you’ve remembered to turn the faucet off as you brush your teeth. Or, maybe your family has a time limit for showers. But have you ever saved the water from your shower to use for something else like flushing the toilet or watering plants? Well, the residents of Cape Town, South Africa have. They have taken some drastic measures to conserve water.

South Africa is rapidly approaching what they’ve named “Day Zero”. Day Zero is the day that, if nothing changes, their city of Cape Town runs out of water. Right now, reports claim that Day Zero will occur this June. Until then, or something changes, people will be rationed [given a controlled amount] less than seven gallons a day. They will have to use those seven gallons for all their water needs. There are some exceptions to this rule, like hospitals and schools.

Are you wondering how this happened? South Africa has been hit with very high temperatures, and very little precipitation [rainfall]. This has been going on for a few years, and has caused some disastrous results. The country thrives off their crops, but with no rain, few crops can grow. So, the country has had to import [purchase from other countries] food. Thousands of trees have died as well. This all has cost South Africa a lot of money.

The country has worked hard to become more “green” with their water use to try to prevent Day Zero from happening. They installed better pipes to keep from leaking water, encouraged the recycling of water, and more. Unfortunately, there’s not much anyone can do about Mother Nature. Businesses, local officials, and the international community are still working hard to solve the problem.

Crisis situations like Day Zero have environmentalists spreading the word about conservation. Every year near the end of March, the World Wide Fund for Nature hosts Earth Hour. During Earth Hour, which is usually an hour in the evening, participants turn off their lights to save energy. This is viewed as a commitment to honoring the environment. This year’s Earth Hour is Saturday, March 24th, from 8:30-9:30. Earth Hour won’t stop Day Zero, but it is a way to show support for planet Earth.

What Do You Think? What can you do to conserve water and honor the environment?

Photo Credit: Kristin Palitza/dpa/Alamy Stock Photo