As of Sunday afternoon, the dreaded “day zero” – the day residents of the city of Cape Town, South Africa, will need to begin queuing for drinking water after supplies sink below the threshold of sustainability – was estimated to be Nov. 11, 2018.
The shortage is the result of South Africa’s worst drought in 100 years…
And with city government efforts to secure alternative water supplies progressing slowly, Cape Town (pop. 440,000) is on track to become the first major world city to run out of water.
Hiring security forces to guard water supplies and forcing residents to ration their use must be unimaginably frustrating for the city’s government. But during a press conference late last month, Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, expressed another secondary annoyance that, in some ways, is even more profoundly disturbing.
A disaster that was until recently only imaginable by writers of dystopian science fiction is playing out in front of our eyes: And what’s worse: Nobody seems to care.
“We have reached the point of no return,” Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, warned this month. With anger in her voice she added: “It is quite unbelievable that a majority of people do not seem to care.”
But they should – if only because they’re city might be next:
As the BBC notes, over one billion people lack access to water and another 2.7 billion find it scarce for at least one month of the year. A 2014 survey of the world’s 500 largest cities estimates that one in four are in a situation of “water stress”.
Here’s a list of 11 other major cities where the taps may soon run dry, courtesy of the BBC.
Brazil’s financial capital and one of the 10 most populated cities in the world went through a similar ordeal to Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity.
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