This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
In January 2018, when officials in Cape Town announced that the city of 4 million people was three months away from running out of municipal water, the world was stunned. Labelled “Day Zero” by local officials and brought on by three consecutive years of anemic rainfall, April 12, 2018, was to be the date of the largest drought-induced municipal water failure in modern history.
Photos of parched-earth dams and residents lining up to collect spring water splashed across news sites. The city’s contingency plan called for the entire population to collect its water — a maximum of a two-minute-shower’s-worth a day per person — from 200 centralized water centers, each serving the population equivalent of an MLS soccer stadium.
Then April 12th came and went, and news of the crisis evaporated.
One year on, Cape Town has apparently made it through the worst of a historic drought without turning off the taps, although the water supply is still tenuous. How the city managed to evade disaster — ... Read more