Since 2001, Cape Town has had a water conservation and demand management policy to reduce the city’s water demand. These efforts have kept overall water demand relatively stable until 2014 when demand started to rise. Due to a combination of lower rainfall in the winter of 2016 and a relatively slow initial governance response to the drought, the city officially declared a water crisis this year.
In early April, Cape Town was down to its last 100 days of water. The water levels in the dams that supply the city had fallen to 20% of their capacity. In response, the city imposed water restrictions. These include stricter limits on residential water use and strongly recommend a limit of 100 litres per person per day. They also include a ban on irrigation, and a 350 litres per day cap on the free basic water allocation for impoverished households, regardless of household size.
Gareth Morgan told EURACTIV on 12 July that currently the dams are now at 25% of their capacity, which marks a recovery, thanks to the rainy season.
But he said the city authorities had to radically re-look their approach to water, because now there was less trust in the previous hydrological model for Cape Town, and there was an acceptance that the city should prepare for an increased scarcity on a more permanent basis.