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: “After Day Zero, Cape Town will revert back to medieval times when diseases like cholera and possibly even the plague emerge, as sewers block up and hospitals are overwhelmed.
“It will be like a refugee camp, dependent on aid from donor agencies and international humanitarian organisations.” Here in Cape Town, I’m writing this under the hot January sun, and the water is still on.
At the supermarket yesterday, there was a frenzy to grab bottles as they were being delivered, and staff had to limit each person to four litres.
Queues for the natural springs in Newlands, a central suburb, are growing longer by the day and are now watched over by the police.
In a city surrounded by beaches, however, these are all manageable hardships. Hairdressers are doing dry cuts; cafes and restaurants offer drinks in takeaway cups and won’t serve tap water.
Gardens are dying under the hot sun, wildfires have started sparking on Table Mountain and public loos are being left unflushed by an increasingly conscientious public.
The public thirst for knowledge is understandable, particularly since we have been kept largely in the dark so far.
What we do know is that unless dam levels magically stop dropping, from 12 April, people will be collecting 25 litres of water each, from one of 200 “pods” around the city, all of which will be guarded by the army. If each pod serves 5,000 families, how long will the queues be?
“I suggest people come here for a day or two to see the sights but then move onto one of the towns nearby that have no water restrictions, like Hermanus, Greyton or Plett,” Elvin-Jenson continues.
Not exactly Dickensian, but a definite departure from Cape Town’s sleek image as a travel magazine cover star.
Buying drinking water has become a daily occupation.
To put it in perspective, the average Briton uses 200 litres a day.
In Cape Town today, dishwasher and washing machine usage has to be severely curtailed, so we’re eating off paper plates and wearing the same clothes for a few days in a row. In a particularly hot summer, private pools are covered to prevent evaporation, public pools that don’t use sea water are mostly closed, while many gyms have blocked off their showers.