Water for all and water for none

27 February 2018                            Dr Richard J. Grant

Cape Town is not the first city to face a drought, but it is predicted to be the first major city to run out of water. Municipal water restrictions are in effect and “Zero Day” is expected to arrive in June 2018, at which point the municipality will be unable to supply any water to its residents.

The short-term supply problem is serious and although the current drought might be the most severe in the lifetime of anyone currently living, it is not said to be the worst drought ever faced by the Cape Town region. In the past, Cape Town has prospered and always survived the vagaries of the weather. People choose to live in cities for the very reason that they flourish in the presence of other productive people with whom they exchange goods, knowledge, and companionship. In recent years, Cape Town’s population has grown by more than half a million people per decade. Yet in the city, no one remembers a “Zero Day”. What is different now?

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