World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030 and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.

There are global issues with water, but Cape Town is a classic example of the increasing problems occurring and the link to tourism. Dam levels are still dropping, there has been almost no rain and yet Day Zero has been pushed back which has left many people confused.

It appears that the decision was political, designed to limit the negative impact on tourism and investment in the city, because from these shots below, it certainly was not based on the fact that the water crisis is over. Dam levels are just over 22% of capacity. Everyone has seen photographs and television shots of the sandy bottom of the Theewaterskloof Dam, testament to the severity of the water crisis.

But in a city that relies on tourism as one of its major money-spinners and job creators, Day Zero was bad for business. The effect of Day Zero on tourism and investment in the city has not been quantified, but what will happen to the locals and farmers if the tourists keep coming?

“Seeing is believing” so in early March I was sent photos that were taken during a flight over some of the Western Cape’s major dam systems including four of the “big six” that supply the City of Cape Town with its water lifeline (Wemmershoek, Berg River, Theewaterskloof & Voelvlei). Not only are the dams levels still seriously low but the surrounding countryside in many places resembles a desert. There will be those that continue to deny the water crisis exists but anyone who saw what they did would be hard pressed to keep that point of view.

Without good rains this winter Cape Town is in real trouble…and something needs to be done:-

Wemmershoek Dam, Franschhoek

Wemmershoek Dam, Franschhoek

Wemmershoek Dam, Franschhoek

Wemmershoek Dam, Franschhoek

Berg River - all just under 50% capacity

Berg River – all just under 50% capacity

Theewaterskloof, just 11% capacity

Theewaterskloof, just 11% capacity

Near Villiersdorp

Near Villiersdorp

Very low level at Theewaterskloof

Very low level at Theewaterskloof

Brandvlei - under 8%

Brandvlei – under 8%

The old road covered by the Kwaggaskloof Dam is visible again. Dam level is at 17.6% of total capacity.

Kwaggaskloof Dam

Kwaggaskloof Dam

The Rawsonville road crosses an almost empty Breede River:-

Breede River

Breede River

Looking south from Riebeck Kasteel towards the Paardeberg, with Table Mountain just visible behind it to the right. The farmlands resemble a desert…

Looking south from Riebeck Kasteel

Looking south from Riebeck Kasteel

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