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Table Mountain, Cape Town

Cape Town drought comes to an end

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16 July 2018 by Claire Benktander

After months of speculation and fears of the arrival of Day Zero in Cape Town – largely due to the media's hyperbole – the effort of local residents and the tourism industry over recent months have brought it to a halt. Day Zero would have meant Cape Town residents facing the prospect of having to use even less water after plummeting reservoir levels, but their efforts to reduce water consumption as well as significant recent rainfalls in Cape Town mean dam levels have risen and the tourism industry is thriving once again.

After water troubles since 2015, Day Zero was planned to take place when a certain low water level was reached – it would have made Cape Town the first major city to potentially run out of water. Not a real issue for tourists, who make up just 1% of the population of the Western Cape, the measures were specifically aimed at the locals – with tourists told to simply be mindful of how much water they use. Three years of drought in Western Cape with minimal rainfall meant reservoirs dwindled and there were fears that tap water would be cut off. Hotels and restaurants remained busy, but put rules into place such as two-minute maximum showers and hand sanitiser instead of soap and water in toilets, while supermarkets had a daily total water allowance per person and the daily allotment was lowered to 50 litres.

By March, Cape Town had reduced its daily water consumption by half, and this meant storage levels rose around 12% by the end of May 2018. By June this, plus good rains, meant dam levels increased to 43% of capacity. Residents' day-to-day changes not only caused this big change but also helped to combat environmental issues. Now, the city is flourishing again, and while ‘water wise tourism’ will still be in place – such as urging tourists not to have baths to preserve water consumption – there’s never been a better time to book a holiday to Cape Town. See our full list of Cape Town holidays here, from whale watching and Big Five safaris to world-class vineyard tasting.

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