In recent months, we’ve heard how the reservoirs have dropped down to 13 percent capacity following a three-year drought. This well-managed, wealthy African city soon would be turning off the taps and forcing its residents to line up for their rationed 6.6 gallons of water a day.
Day Zero was set for mid-April, and by January, Cape Town’s citizens started taking it seriously. They reduced their use of water by 57 percent and managed to push the turn-off date back to July 9, well into the time winter rains could make it a moot point.
Still, it is a cautionary tale to the rest of us wrestling with a dwindling water supply and increasing demand for service. We can learn a few things from some of the plans the Cape Town families made to stretch their proposed rations – without the help of water profiteers charging obscene prices to deliver tanks of water from outside the region.
• Grill more of your meals (no pots and pans to wash) and look for recipes that you can eat out of hand, such as hamburgers and corn-on-the-cob. When every drop counts, it makes a difference. Don’t forget to save the dishwater you do use to flush the toilet later!
• Cut back on daily showers; some had them down to 90 seconds, two or three times a week. On the days you don’t shower, freshen up with a damp cloth. Oh, and save the water from your shower to do your laundry.
• If you’re lucky enough to find one available at skyrocketing prices, invest in a water tank. Use it to supplement your water supply with run-off from your roof.
• Finally, make sure you have enough to drink. While other beverages are available, nothing hydrates like water, and dehydration is no laughing matter. It can easily lead to serious health complications.
Fortunately, at the Granger-Hunter Improvement District, we don’t have those decisions to make and, as it looks now, neither will Capetonians… and if we take our responsibilities seriously, monitoring our water use and protecting our water sources, we never will.