Africa

Satellite images show Cape Town’s shrinking reservoir as Day Zero looms

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New images show the scale of Cape Town's water crisis as officials believe the South African tourist hub will run out of water in April.

The satellite images, supplied to SBS News by Planet Labs Inc, show Cape Town's biggest water reservoir, Theewaterskloof Dam, at dangerously low levels.

Capetonians will be expected to abide by a 50 litre-a-day personal consumption limit from Thursday in an effort to avert the so-called "Day Zero" scenario which would see taps shut off across the city.

"Day Zero" is currently forecast for April 16. Householders and traders would be forced to queue at 200 water collection points to collect a daily allocation of 25 litres per person -- less than a two-minute shower.

Cape Town's biggest reservoir on January 6, 2011.
Cape Town's biggest water reservoir on January 6, 2011. (Planet Lab, Inc.)
Planet Lab, Inc.

Cape Town's biggest water reservoir on January 24, 2018.
Cape Town's biggest water reservoir on January 24, 2018. (Planet Lab Inc.)
Planet Lab, Inc.

The Newland spring has attracted hundreds of residents keen to supplement their current 87-litre quota.

"A physical conflict broke out and a person was arrested by the South African Police Service," said city security chief, councillor Jean-Pierre Smith in a statement.

"Congestion and noise from cars and persons visiting the site at all hours of the day and night is causing many complaints."

Residents will only be able to collect 25 litres per visit to the spring and officials will be posted to the site 24-hours a day to keep order in the queue.

Current dam levels fell last week to 26.3 percent, with the last 10 percent difficult to use, according to the Cape Town government.

But only about 55 percent of residents stuck to last week's limit of 87 litres a day.

A typical shower uses 15 litres per minute while a standard toilet consumes 15 litres per flush, according to WaterWise, a South African water usage awareness campaign.

- With AFP

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