Cape Towners, rain, avert water crisis

Images courtesy of Planet Labs. Coordinates 34.03S, 19.21E. Water is identified via the NDWI algorithm.

Rain has returned to South Africa's Western Cape. Cape Town's Theewaterskloof reservoir, its largest, is half full, with five times more water than it had at the depths of the drought.  Together the reservoirs for the city are at two-thirds of their full capacity.

In February, millions of Cape Town residents were facing Day Zero, when water would cease to flow from their taps. But during three years of drought, residents more than halved their water usage. The city issued weekly reports on the state of the reservoirs. It enforced quotas and published house-by-house readouts of water meters. In the end, through the collective effort to use less water in all the mundane ways you would expect, the people of Cape Town averted the worst of the crisis. 

A factor of two reduction in the use of any resource is no mean feat. If the U.S. could cut its C02 emissions in half by 2030, we'd be on track to limit warming to 2º C.  

Edward Boyda