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Every Drop Counts

Visiting Cape Town During A Water Shortage
Written by
Tessa Van der Walt

If you've been in Cape Town for more than a few hours, you may well have spotted electronic signboards in and around the city warning of water rationing and urging you to save as much water as possible this summer. That’s because the city is experiencing a serious drought which could see us running out of useable water by around August this year unless there is decent rainfall. Capetonians are being encouraged to use less than 50 litres of water a day each – which includes water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and flushing. Despite these challenges, life goes on and visitors are still welcome - but we thought you might like to arrive prepared and ready to help where possible.

Facing facts

First up, there is no need to cancel your plans to visit. Yes, you may be asked to try to save as much water as possible while you’re here, but you won’t be expected to go without completely. It’s all about minimising the problem by being proactive. So, what is the actual situation?

By the middle of February the average dam levels had dropped to 24,9%, and with the hot summer days we’re currently having, there’s little hope of enough heavy and sustained rainfall to bring those levels up significantly. The City of Cape Town is implementing long-term projects to help alleviate the problem, but we can start making a difference in small ways so long.

The last couple of months have shown us that saving enough water is achievable, but for our efforts to be really effective, more people need to get on board. And that’s where you as visitors can help too. We know that Cape Town is a wildly popular place to visit, and we love having you here. But we also hope that your love for our city goes beyond just spending a few days here admiring the mountain, the sea and the winelands.

Some hotels in the Mother City are educating guests about the crisis, with displays in the lobbies, signs in the rooms and even removing the bath plugs. But others aren’t. If you don’t see notices in your hotel, feel free to ask why, or drop us a line. Dealing with the water shortages is not insurmountable if we all work together.

What we can do

Everyone, Capetonian and visitor alike, can help, by simply tweaking your habits. Cut your shower a little shorter, don’t leave the water running while you’re lathering or brushing your teeth – and, here’s the not so popular one, don’t flush the loo unless absolutely necessary.

Here in the Jacada Travel Cape Town office, we’ve taken the challenge of the water shortage on board. We’ve implemented water saving practices at the office as well as at home, and it really hasn’t been that difficult.

Our water saving tips

  • Choose short showers over baths or Jacuzzis.
  • Turn off the shower while lathering up.
  • Consider bringing your own towel and using it for the duration of your trip.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  • Don’t flush the toilet after every use.
  • And one final cheeky suggestion from the team… drink wine instead of tap water!