In Cape Town, South Africa, they call it "Day Zero", the day when the taps run out.
A few days ago, city officials had said that day would arrive on April 22. This week, the date was up until April 12.
Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa and an international tourist attraction. Now, residents play a new and delicate water math game every day.
They are recycling the bathroom water to help clean the toilets. They are told to limit the showers to 90 seconds. And the hand sanitizer, once a last minute, is now a great success.
"Unwashed hair is now a sign of social responsibility," Darryn Ten told CNN.
The genesis of the crisis
How? Did this happen? How does an important city dry up in the developed world?
It has been a slow-motion crisis, compounded by three factors that conspired together:
- The worst drought in more than a century, which has pushed Cape Town's water shortage into a potentially deadly horizon
- population, which is 4 million and growing rapidly
- A rapidly changing climate
Even with the difficult situation they are in, residents have not significantly decreased their use of water, said Patricia De Lille, Mayor of Cape Town.
The city has reduced the water pressure in its pipes to help stretch the water supply. But the use is still 86 million liters above its target.
"It is incredible that most people do not care and send us all to Day Zero," according to a statement from the mayor's office. "We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water, we must force them."
As of February 1, residents will only be able to use 50 liters, or just over 13 gallons of water per person, per day .
Coping with scarcity
Scarcity is forcing some residents to be creative.
Alistair Coy, who is on vacation in Cape Town from the UK, extracts water from boiling potatoes in a bucket for things like washing clothes.
Anne Verbist recycles her water tap to take care of her plants.
"We take all the tap water to wash hands and dishes and use it for plants," he said.
But creativity is also creating problems.
"People [are] buying anything that may contain water," said resident Richard Stubbs. "There are no cubes, no [gas cans] or drums [are] in stock, so people [are] buy baskets, vases and large storage boxes."
Then, some of them fill them with water from city supplies, further fueling the water crisis.
Concerns over drinking water
Verbist, and several other residents, said that while they use tap water for household needs, they are reluctant to drink it.
"They say it's okay to drink, but the kids had stomach problems," he said. 19659002] So now, she and her family travel to Newlands Spring to get their liters of water allocated twice a month. They tried to replenish their reserves of drinking water on Monday, but the line was too long. They returned the next day.
Resident Lincoln Mzwakali says his tap water also "tastes weird". So trust in spring.
"Many neighboring communities have begun to depend on it," he said.
CNN asked the city of Cape Town about water quality concerns that some residents reported, but has not yet received a response.
Long lines and essential elements
Not lost among residents "Day Zero" is fast approaching.
"It's scary, especially when you see the prey from where we get our water," says Verbist.
The water levels in the dams that supply the city have dropped by 1.4% in the last week and the video taken on Tuesday of the city's largest dam, Theewaterskloof, shows an almost sterile field.
Some who have the funds to leave Cape Town until the crisis subsidies are doing so. Darryn Ten plans to do just that.
"Basically, everyone I know who is in a position to leave is doing it," he says. "The consensus is that everyone who can leave the city should do it to help relieve the burden."
But there are those who can not: elderly, disabled and impoverished.
"They don" We have the money to buy water, "Verbist told CNN.
" It has been a difficult transition because many capetonians are not understanding how we got to this point when the municipality was well informed that we would experience a drought, "says Mzwakali." There are a lot of angry people and there are not enough answers on how this will be resolved. "