Residents are now being asked to curb the amount of municipal water they use each day to just 50 liters (a little over 13 gallons). Only a month ago, level 6 restrictions had placed residents on a daily allowance of 87 liters (about 23 gallons), illustrating the severity of looming crisis.
Experts are keeping a close eye on daily consumption in a desperate bid to avoid the disaster, warning residents tempted to ignore measures that they face fines and installation of water management meters if they do not comply.
It may seem unthinkable that a developed city of four million could run out of water but it’s been a slow-burning catastrophe exacerbated by some uncontrollable factors.
The city is now working to upgrade its water systems and help stretch the current supply, but officials say residents need to step up, too.
As the countdown inches closer, residents have been growing increasingly anxious, with many stockpiling water and installing tanks at their properties.
One Capetonian, Adele van der Spuy, relayed the daily struggle of so many in a video filmed outside a Makro wholesale supermarket in Cape Town last Friday.
“People were already rushing in and out of the shop to buy water,” van der Spuy told CNN. “Some actually went in several times as we were only allowed to buy 5 boxes at a time.”
Van der Spuy, who works at GrandWest Casino and Entertainment World, said she had gone to the store to buy water for the employees at her work when she came across the scene.
“Something I never witnessed before. It is eye opening and an indication of the panic and also what lies ahead,” she continued.
The woman clarifies that her workplace has a Spaza Shop for staff which sells water from there directly to staff. “This will hopefully assist them as they have to be at work and do not have the time to go to shops during working hours to buy water,” van der Spuy said.
Her video is just one of several clips doing the rounds on social media which show water selling out “like hot cakes,” van der Spuy said.
“People are queuing in long lines to buy water. Some shops have been sold out for a few days now. It seems like you have to be at the shop as soon as they open in order to get water,” van der Spuy added.
CNN’s Emily Smith contributed to this report.
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