Cape Town, March 2nd – Professional Windsurfer, Ocean Adventurer and Environmentalist Florian Jung visits South Africa to enjoy some of the fantastic windsurfing conditions Cape Town has to offer while escaping the cold European Winter. While Flo has been enjoying the great windsurfing conditions Cape Town has to offer, the fresh drinking water crisis has been a very bleak contrast.
The water situation is quite dramatic here in Cape Town. The so called Day Zero, where all the water dams are going to be empty is now scheduled for the 21 of April.
At that day there will be no water left in the pipes. 200 mobile water stations will be set up around the town where citizens can collect 25 litres of drinking water per person a day. Approx. 4000 people will be waiting each day for hours to get the needed water. At this stage, every person is allowed to use 50l of water per day. In most restaurants, the water in toilets is already switched off and the water prices per household have been gone up tremendously.
I attended one of town meetings in a suburb close to the city, where preparation have been made to keep the situation in control. Hospital staff, fire fighters and informal settlements have access to a certain volume of water at all time. In residential areas, there will be a water chief for each street, that will organize water supply for the handicapped and elderly, and check that no water is used for the wrong purpose.
The city expects to have this situation resolved in 6 months time, when the winter hopefully brings back some rain and a new infrastructure with new desalination plants has been set up. Even a few days with such limited access to water will already be a challenge. Time will tell how people deal with it.
It is fascinating and scary at the same time to see how much we depend on water. Its not only about drinking water, we need water for almost every sector in our life. It is one of the most precious resources we have and we will probably experience this kind of situation more and more in the future with a growing population and the consequences of climate change. It is quite a new problem of our modern society if a big developed city like Cape Town with 5 Million people is running out of water.
A tourist like me has to adapt to these regulations while I am here. If the situation gets worse, I can just jump on a plane and escape to rainy Germany where we ironically have too much water, whilst most people that live here in Cape Town dont even have the funds to take a bus ride out of town. I guess drinking a glass of pure water is something I will see with different eyes from now on. Its a more than privilege to open the tap and enjoy a cool zip of fresh water!
To me, this is a lesson of how important it is that humanity finds ways to work with these challenges and finds ways to respect the laws of nature. We only have a limited amount of certain resources and the sooner we realise that, the better it will be for all of us. One thing is for sure.
It will affect all of us.
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Picture Credits: N. Geisselbrecht