EarthMatters
 
Water
Program Notes

Day Zero
Cape Town ‘may’ not run out of water after all – It all depends on the upcoming rainy season and residents maintaining water conservation restrictions
written by Matt Hickman, Mother Nature Network

We’ve seen modern cities grapple with historic, seemingly never-ending droughts before. That, unfortunately, is nothing new. But the situation now unfolding in Cape Town, South Africa, is something new: a major city — a thriving global tourism destination, at that — on the cusp on running dry.
For the 3.7 million-some residents in metro Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest and second most populous urban area, "Day Zero" — the date the city’s depleted reservoirs are expected to officially hit empty — looms ominously. Day Zero was initially calculated to occur on April 22, although it has been periodically pushed back due to rain and water-saving measures. In April, city officials pushed the date back to 2019 — with one major caveat. Residents must main current water restrictions (50 liters per person per day). The updated "Day Zero" is also dependent on how much rainfall occurs during South Africa's upcoming winter rain season, which runs from April to October.
"I would therefore like to urge all Capetonians not to relax their savings efforts," Executive Deputy Mayor Alderman Ian Neilson said in a statement. "While we are feeling more confident of avoiding Day Zero this year, we cannot predict the volume of rainfall still to come. If winter rainfall this year is as low as last year, or even lower, we are still in danger of reaching Day Zero early next year."
As of early April, the city's dams were less than 22 percent full, and the city is consuming 521 million liters on average per day. The goal is to reach 450 million liters per day.
With no water running through their taps, H2O-seeking residents will be forced to rely on 200 or so municipal water collection points that will be spread throughout the city. (Some trial distribution sites have been up and running for months now.) Secured by armed guards, the 24/7 rationing sites will allocate a daily allotment of 25 liters, or 6.6 gallons, per person. Residents requiring more than that are on their own. Twenty liters of water per day is the bare minimum for a person to maintain proper health and hygiene per World Health Organization standards.
While making do with just over 6 gallons of water per day is extreme for most Capetonians, many have been vigilantly watching their water usage for weeks, if not months.
As Time reports, a decent number of households have been dutifully obeying a 23 gallons-or-less rule that was mandated by the city late last year. With Day Zero looming, showers have been cut drastically short, cars have gone unwashed, once-lush lawns have been left to brown, swimming pools have been drained and shuttered and toilets, well, they’re not getting as flushed as regularly as they once were. "Unwashed hair is now a symbol of upright citizenship, and public restrooms are festooned with admonishments to 'let it mellow,'" writes Time.
But as mayoral committee member Xanthea Limberg explains to Reuters, a decent number of households heeding the warning and taking action simply hasn’t been enough to prevent Day Zero from lurching forward. (The city estimates that only 54 percent of residents are conserving enough to hit the 23 gallons or less per day mark.)
In addition to three years of woefully minimal rainfall, Cape Town's current crisis was sparked by a dramatic increase in water usage amongst the Western Cape region’s fast-growing population.
Meanwhile, officials are scrambling to open desalianation plants, which transform seawater into clean drinking water, and drill wells that would tap into underground aquifers and help supplement Cape Town’s dwindling water supply. However, many fear that these efforts are too little, too late and won’t be up and running until just before, or even after, Day Zero.
________________________________________
World Water Day - March 22
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. The U.N. General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day, stressing the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.
The theme for 2018 is “Nature for Water”. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) celebrated the World Water Day by hosting a discussion on the theme from the perspective of FAO’s mandate.
For a video of those proceedings click here
________________________________________
What do we mean by Fresh Water?
Out of all the water on Earth, saline water in oceans, seas and saline groundwater make up about 97% of it. Only 2.5–2.75% is fresh water, including 1.75–2% frozen in glaciers, ice and snow, 0.5–0.75% as fresh groundwater and soil moisture, and less than 0.01% of it as surface water in lakes, swamps and rivers. Freshwater lakes contain about 87% of this fresh surface water, including 29% in the African Great Lakes, 22% in Lake Baikal in Russia, 21% in the North American Great Lakes, and 14% in other lakes. Swamps have most of the balance with only a small amount in rivers, most notably the Amazon River.Fresh water is naturally occurring water on Earth's surface in ice sheets, ice caps, glaciers, icebergs, bogs, ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, and underground as groundwater in aquifers and underground streams. Fresh water is generally characterized by having low concentrations of dissolved salts and other total dissolved solids.

The source of almost all fresh water is precipitation from the atmosphere, in the form of mist, rain and snow. Fresh water falling as mist, rain or snow contains materials dissolved from the atmosphere and material from the sea and land over which the rain bearing clouds have traveled. In industrialized areas rain is typically acidic because of dissolved oxides of sulfur and nitrogen formed from burning of fossil fuels in cars, factories, trains and aircraft and from the atmospheric emissions of industry. In some cases this acid rain results in pollution of lakes and rivers.

Fresh water is a renewable and variable, but finite natural resource. Fresh water can only be replenished through the process of the water cycle, in which water from seas, lakes, forests, land, rivers, and reservoirs evaporates, forms clouds, and returns as precipitation. Locally however, if more fresh water is consumed through human activities than is naturally restored, this may result in reduced fresh water availability from surface and underground sources and can cause serious damage to surrounding and associated environments.
Source: Wikipedia (Fresh Water)
Water
 
Copyright Lawson Hunter & Associates.
contact: earthmatters (at) newsandcomment.com