Restaurant diners rushed to the streets when they heard it — with some grabbing buckets to catch it— as the first few minutes of a deluge of rainfall fell on Cape Town, South Africa; quenching a drought-stricken city that was headed for what scientists termed as Day Zero, or the day when even the taps would run dry.
Day Zero is seen to be fully felt by May, and scientists are still iffy as to whether the downpour that came last Friday, which saw two to 10 millimeters hit Cape Town and its surrounding areas, will be enough to delay Day Zero even further.
But even with a dismal forecast, as the Cape Town Weather Office does not expect any more rainfall this week according to CNN, residents welcomed the precipitation as they haven’t seen it since January 22.
CNN reported however that the less-than-an-inch rainfall would make a huge impact on Cape Town’s largest reservoir, Theewaterskloof Dam, which satellite images show is at dangerously low levels.
Further, residents reported that their daily water usage downsized from 87 to an average of 50 liters a day, equivalent to a little over 13 gallons.
“The water restrictions have been crazy, ” 32-year-old Cape Town resident, Wayne Ronne said in an interview with CNN. “We are not allowed to have baths. We are allowed to have showers, though not every day. We have stocked up [on] bottled water, hand sanitizers and wet wipes. You literally feel guilty when flushing.”
People are also faced with the problem of shops running out of bottled water, or when the stocks arrive too late. Those who can afford to do so queue up at stores before they open, and swarm bottled water pallets, emptying it in minutes.
Yet the city is reassuring residents that they are also rushing to upgrade its water systems and is building desalination, aquifer and water-recycling projects to help stretch what little supply they are working with.
While they are already in a tough spot, the government said they will be forced to have residents living on 25 liters (6.6 gallons) of water a day as ration should Day Zero ever arrive.
Each state-operated water collection point will have to accommodate the water needs of 20, 000 residents.
Schools and hospitals however, are expected to continue to receive water after Day Zero, as contingency plans for these key institutions have already been laid.