People in Cape Town have massively delayed the day they run out of water by using dirty shower water to flush their toilets

The Theewaterskloof Dam, which supplies most of Cape Town's potable water, on February 20, 2018.

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The Theewaterskloof Dam, which supplies most of Cape Town’s potable water, on February 20, 2018.
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Mike Hutchings/Reuters

  • Cape Town has been going through one of the worst droughts in its history.
  • Officials have designated a date, dubbed “Day Zero,” when it will run out of water
  • Day Zero was originally scheduled to be some time this year, but has just been postponed to 2019.
  • People have been saving water by taking shorter showers and reusing water.

Cape Town has massively postponed the date on which it will run out of water until next year.

After three years of persistent drought, the government has warned that the coastal South African city would be forced to turn off most of its taps in 2018 – a date also known as “Day Zero.”

The new Day Zero is now an unnamed date in 2019, according to the city government’s website.

For the past several months, Cape Town citizens have been told to dramatically cut their water consumption, a tactic which the city says has been working.

Some citizens have been collecting dirty water used for cleaning or cooking – also known as “grey water” – to reuse in toilets or gardening.

City authorities even teamed up with South African pop stars to launch an album of sped-up, two-minute songs designed to help people save water by taking shorter showers.

cape town day zero 7mar2018

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City of Cape Town

Cape Town has already pushed Day Zero back four times, with the most recent postponement being earlier on Wednesday.

The city originally set Day Zero at April 21, before moving it forward to April 12, backward to May 11, then to June 4, July 9, and then August 27.

Should the day come, most of the city’s taps will be turned off, and around 20,000 residents would have to queue for water and be subjected to a strict rationing system.

Helen Zille, the premier of the Western Cape province, said earlier this year that the challenge faced by the city “exceeds anything a major city has had to face anywhere in the world since the Second World War or 9/11.”

An Instagram post showing the impact of Cape Town's water crisis.

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An Instagram post showing the impact of Cape Town’s water crisis.
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natsmason/Instagram

Tim Harris, CEO of Cape Town’s official tourism agency Wesgro, said the latest delay is due to “residents, businesses, farmers and visitors pulling together to drastically reduce their consumption by 57% in three years.”

He added: “It is also dependent on a continuation of the historic savings in consumption – we cannot ease up on our efforts yet.

‘But today it is clear that every person who has helped save water is a hero in their own right, and we thank them for their efforts in recent weeks.”