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Will Cape Town be the First City To Run Out of Water? (bbc.com) 342

Cape Town, home to Table Mountain, African penguins, sunshine and sea, is a world-renowned tourist destination. But soon it could also become famous for being the first major city in the world to run out of water. From a report: Most recent projections suggest that its water could run out as early as March. The crisis has been caused by three years of very low rainfall, coupled with increasing consumption by a growing population. The local government is racing to address the situation, with desalination plants to make sea water drinkable, groundwater collection projects, and water recycling programmes. Meanwhile Cape Town's four million residents are being urged to conserve water and use no more than 87 litres (19 gallons) a day. Car washing and filling up swimming pools has been banned.
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Will Cape Town be the First City To Run Out of Water?

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  • Solution (Score:4, Funny)

    by edxwelch ( 600979 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:09PM (#55915091)

    The obvious solution is to just drink beer.

  • they were surrounded with it. Amazing what can happen in a few short years.

  • If you are going to run out of water in 3 months at the current rate and you don't have the time or money to build desalination
    plants fast enough then the obvious solution is to raise the price of water so that you have the time/money to fix the problem.
    With the time gained from reduced consumption and the money gained from charging more for the water, this is an easily
    solvable problem for a city that sits on the ocean with an unlimited supply of water they can desalinate.
    There are also desalination plants

    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      How very Marie Antoinette of you - "Let them eat cake!"

      Raising the price of water doesn't reduce the need for water to live.

      • How very Marie Antoinette of you - "Let them eat cake!"

        Raising the price of water doesn't reduce the need for water to live.

        You don't need 19 gallons per person a day to survive. You need less than 1 gallon per day per person of drinking water. If water is going to run out in 3 months then limited everyone to 1 gallon per day gives you almost 5 years to bring more desalination plants online and/or relocate some of the people.

        The point is that you don't want to run out of water because then you have death by dehydration, mass riots, and chaos. If you really are going to run out of water in 3 months then you better come up with

      • by Ichijo ( 607641 )

        Make the first 19 gallons per person free or very low cost to give everyone enough water for their daily drinking and sanitation needs. Then price each additional gallon at whatever rate will stabilize reservoir levels: when levels are low, raise the price, and when levels are high, lower the price. Check the reservoir levels and re-price the water every few months to avoid overcharging water customers while preventing the water from running out. As new desalination plants and other sources of potable water

      • So you think not raising the price of water and having people dying of dehydration in 3 months is better?

        Yours is an all too-common error in reasoning - comparison to a nonexistent alternative [wikipedia.org]. The alternative here isn't everyone has water to drink for as long as they want as you erroneously assume. The alternative here is they run out of water in 3 months, at which point people start dying of thirst. If raising the price of water can stave off that scenario, then it's an improvement. If you can't of
  • They may be the first city in the world to have water prices be 100% market driven, and those that cannot afford the price may either die from thirst or move. There will be water to be had, but almost certainly not at the current prices.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      overpopulation. why isn't it ever talked about as the ROOT reason? i feel like the market should take externalities like that more into account. perhaps it will soon with resource scarcity.

      frankly I am glad Trump (whom I despise) dumped on Africa. the population is exploding while their gov'ts are corrupt and it will result in misery for many, with numbers increasing rapidly. Too much human misery and environmental degradation that will cost us all. The USA is so stupid about birth control not only should w

    • Did you know the human body is 60% water? *cocks gun* So please lie down the the bathtub first, I don't want to spill more than necessary...

  • Population Growth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Friday January 12, 2018 @12:31PM (#55915257)

    South Africa is divided into provinces. Cape Town is in the Western Cape province and was the first major city run by the national opposition party, the Democratic Alliance. The province itself followed, and is also governed by the DA, for some years now.

    The national government and all other major cities, towns and provinces have been run by the national ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), since freedom.

    So you may assume that the DA has screwed up, letting the city and province run out of water, while the ANC has got things sorted elsewhere? Well, you would be wrong.

    The neighboring Eastern Cape province is an overwhelming majority ANC stronghold. But by every measure it is a dismal failure - jobs, healthcare, life expectancy, education, housing, infrastructure, etc.

    So people in the Eastern Cape vote for the ANC, but their feet vote to take them to the Western Cape, and in particular, Cape Town. There their kids will be educated, there is economic growth, jobs, housing and things generally work - not a paradise, but much better from their perspective.

    This inrush of millions of peasants has overwhelmed the Cape Town infrastructure and ability to provide for them. The city and the province and trying hard, but even the DA is not perfect.

    One final observation: Water supply is constitutionally a national responsibility, not local or provincial. Hence parliament and the national executive must account. And national government is firmly in the hands of the ANC.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      So there really is no hope here: the influx of ANC voters will push out the DA and ruin the Western Cape as well. You could read a thousand MSM stories about this and never learn what you have explained.

  • I see they placed a ban on washing cars, but I thought almost all of the commercial car washes recycled their water already? Unless you're only banning people washing them at home using a hose -- this doesn't seem like it will accomplish much?

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      They recycle water, but not infinitely. There's still a large amount of water use, so it still makes sense to ban it as it's not an essential function, and it will save water.

  • I believe Southern California (LA, San Diego) never had enough water. They get their water piped in from Colorado.

    • Water here comes from the Colorado River, the border between California and Arizona, and from the northern part of the state via the State Water Project. The Project has destroyed ranching, farming, and the lives of many people and fish by destroying habitat.
  • 1. Build nuclear powered desalination barges.
    2. Tow them to wherever there's a drought.
    3. Profit?
    • Could work, but they'll need a system to safely handle the waste brine, or it could also be a nuclear-powered aquatic life destroyer.

  • Short answer: no (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darthsilun ( 3993753 ) on Saturday January 13, 2018 @08:04AM (#55921101)

    With nearly 300 comments already, I'm not sure there's a point in posting, but...

    Los Angeles ran out of water decades ago. Or they would have if they hadn't built aqueducts to bring water from Mono Lake and the Colorado River.

    Santa Barbara nearly ran out of water. They started to build a desalinization plant. Then one rain storm refilled their primary source of water. They cancelled the plant and sold the equipment to one of the dunes countries IIRC.

    The real question should be why did Cape Town wait so long to start dealing with it?

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