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Water justice protests will take place on January 28 as ‘Day Zero’ nears in Cape Town

Cape Town, South Africa is on the verge of becoming the first major city in the world to literally run out of water. It’s called ‘Day Zero’ and it’s now expected to hit the city of about 3.7 million people on April 12 (or even sooner).

About 99 per cent of the Cape Town’s drinking water comes from six dam reservoirs that were 90 per cent full four years ago but that have been dropping for a variety of stated reasons including a three-year long drought, rain at about one-third of normal levels, climate change, and a growing metropolitan population.

ITV reports, “Levels of usable water in the dams surrounding Cape Town have been dropping by 1.4 per cent a day, and currently stand at around 17.2 per cent.”

Bloomberg notes, “While the city has told residents to use no more than 87 liters of water a day each, less than half of households [about 40 per cent] have complied. The daily allocation will be cut to 50 liters on February 1, and hefty surcharges will be introduced for those who exceed their quotas.”

ITV adds, “When levels drop to 13.5 per cent, the city of four million people will be forced to queue for daily rations of 25 litres from 200 water collection points…” The Financial Times paints the dystopian picture of “local government-controlled distribution points [that will be] under armed guard…”

While authorities plan to draw more water from the city’s three aquifers (by late February) and four desalination plants are now under construction (to be completed after Day Zero), this won’t be enough to avert the crisis.

Notably, News 24 has highlighted, “The bottled water industry has remained untouched during the water crisis as 90 per cent of the bottled water industry use renewable groundwater sources in their packaged products…” That article also notes that Sanbwa [the South African National Bottled Water Association] is opposed to any discussion about reducing the cost of bottled water during this crisis.

The Blue Planet Project stands in solidarity with the recently-formed Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition.

That coalition has noted that 100 million litres of water is lost through leaks, but the City has failed to fix those leaks; that desalination costs 10-20 times more than fixing those links, but the City is choosing desalination; that bottling companies are selling spring water that they get for free and that drinking bottled water is not a solution; and that “SAB [South Africa Breweries] and Coke draws 2 million litres a day (FOR FREE) from the springs to make beer and cooldrink.”

The coalition is organizing a protest at the Cape Town Civic Centre and on main roads across the city on Sunday January 28 to say:

– No to water management devices [pre-paid water metres]

– No to proposed amendments to the water bylaw [to restrict households using ‘excessive’ water]

– No to a drought levy [where some residents would pay about $16 a month to make up for the City’s lost revenue from reduced water consumption]

– No to water tariff increases

– Yes to a rational water plan that remunicipalises the water resources and services; no to privatization.

For updates from the Water Crisis Coalition, please see their Facebook page here.

#CapeTownWaterCrisis #DayZero #CapeWaterGate #CapeTownDrought