As Cape Town suffers its worst drought in a century, residents have been told to restrict showers to two minutes and flush toilets only when “absolutely necessary”. The city – South Africa’s biggest tourist hotspot – and the surrounding Western Cape province have been declared a disaster area by the local government, with just 10% of usable water left in the dams supplying the area. Two hours from the city, Theewaterskloof Dam, the main source of water for Cape Town, has been reduced to a flat and sandy desert, with the petrified remains of orchards flooded when the dam was built in the 1970s standing starkly under the sun. At the local watersports club, exposed moorings reveal where sailboats once floated. The long slipway now ends about 100 feet from the water’s edge.
“I’ve worked here for about 20 years and I’ve never ever seen the dam this low,” club secretary Lise Wheeler told AFP.
Check out recent pictures of the Theewaterskloof Dam after the cut
For Cape Town residents, the drought has let to a gradual escalation of restrictions, from the limits on splashing at public pools earlier this year to the current complete ban on topping-up swimming pools or watering gardens. The newest restrictions limit residents to 100 litres per person per day and rule out its use for anything other than cooking, drinking and essential cleaning. Last week Virgin Active, a health club operator, said it would close saunas and steam rooms at its gyms across the province.
“The best strategy to manage a drought effectively is to manage demand, which is what we are doing,” city councillor for water Xanthea Limberg.
Dam pics: Theewaterskloof Dam/Jon Kerrin Photography