Cape Town Ready to Deploy Army to Protect Water Supply
South Africa’s most populous city is running out of water. According to local officials, residential taps in Cape Town are set to run dry by May 11 at current consumption rates. Water is rationed to 13 gallons per person per day, but the clock still ticks toward “Day Zero,” when 3.8 million people lose access to running water.
If Cape Town runs out of water before the rainy season, which normally starts mid-May, it will become the world’s first major city to run out of tap water.
After a two-decade population boom and a three-year drought, the Theewaterskloof Reservoir is only 12 percent full. This reservoir accounts for more than half of Cape Town’s surface water supply. When the amount of water in this reservoir falls below 6 percent holding capacity, pumping equipment stops working.
Once the overall amount of water in Cape Town’s collective reservoirs falls to 13.5 percent, taps will be shut off and water will be rationed out at collection points guarded by soldiers.
“When our dam levels reach 13.5 percent, we will begin to shut down our reticulation system, except to key commercial areas and institutions such as hospitals,” the city said in a statement issued on January 28. “Once this happens, residents will be able to access water from collection points across the city.”
Race tensions and widespread poverty in Cape Town could easily spiral into rioting and looting in the face of severe water restrictions, so the South African National Defense Force and South African Police Service may soon be deployed to approximately 200 checkpoints where people will have to wait for their daily ration of water after “Day Zero” hits.
The main cause of this crisis is drought. The weather station at Cape Town International Airport reports that the city has received only an average of nine inches of rain each year for the past three years—less than half of Cape Town’s normal rainfall.
The crisis is worsened by an agricultural sector that relies heavily on irrigation to grow water-intensive crops. Around one third of the Western Cape’s water supply is used in farming.
God promises “rain in due season” if His people walk in His statutes and keep His commandments (Leviticus 26:3-4), including the land Sabbath (verse 34). He also promises to make people’s “heaven as iron” and “earth as brass” if they rebel against His laws (verse 19). Droughts and famines will become much more common to force mankind to learn this lesson (Joel 1:10-16; Matthew 24:7).
The Bible tells us why droughts and natural disasters occur, as well as what we can do to prevent them. “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14).
If nations embraced this truth, they would not have to fear crop failures, famines, droughts and the social turmoil that accompanies them. For more information, read our free booklet Why ‘Natural’ Disasters?