South Africa’s city of Cape Town is about to become the first major city in the world to run out of water. However, officials are trying to calm international concerns about the water crisis in the city, saying that investors and tourists are welcomed to visit Cape Town.

Most fear all taps could be turned off by April because of the drought. Unless the four million residents cut their water usage drastically, there is no way to stop the city from running out of water.

This means that most people in Cape Town – which is one of the largest cities in South Africa – would have to source water for washing, drinking, and other daily activities from one of the 200 communal points around the city that have water. These would be guarded by national soldiers and police in case the drought leads to violence.

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Cape Town residents face severe water shortages. Image credit: NBC News

A lot of cities around the world are going to go through similar challenges

Despite the fear of taps being completely turned off by April 12 – which was referred to as the “Day Zero” by the officials -, Cape Town officials are trying to dissipate concern and continue to invite people from abroad to the city. Some diplomats who met with Cape Town officials referred to water shortages happening in their own countries, such as Barcelona (Spain) and California (U.S).

“I think a lot of cities are going to go through challenges like this,” said Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, which is an agency that promotes tourism and trade in Western Cape Province.

According to experts, the causes of the water shortages in Cape Town are due to climate change and the population growth since the 90s. Opposition political factions say that the failures are due to inadequate preparation for the crisis. The authorities now hope for seasonal rains and are working to extract water from other sources and procedures, including desalination. However, if residents don’t save water, they will have no option but to close all taps.

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Cape Town might have to turn off most taps by April 12. Image credit: NBC News

Day Zero

A South African charity said it was about to carry out a collection of bottled water to keep it in military bases of Cape Town. Two trucks are making a delivery to Fort Ikapa military base. The water delivered will be distributed to Cape Town’s residents soon.

The city wants foreigners to follow the same guidelines that residents are following, including short showers. Hotels have removed bath plugs and are asking guests to reuse towels, to reduce the laundry loads. Tourist support more than 300,000 jobs in Cape Town. They make up 1 percent of the city’s population during peak season.

Many tourists have canceled reservations because of the situation in the city.

Source: The Washington Post