Cape Town Water Shortage / Drought Update

MARCH 30, 2018, 2018 UPDATE: Day Zero has been cancelled… with the onset of the rainy season, conservation, and new water supplies coming online Day Zero has been avoided!


FEBRUARY 28, 2018 UPDATE: Due to early February rains, and better water management, in Cape Town Day Zero has been moved to mid July 2018… this is 4 months after normal rains should start in April. Further if everyone adheres to water saving measures Day Zero is now considered to be avoidable.


Here at Ultimate Africa we have many friends and business partners who live in Cape Town, South Africa and we are following the drought / water shortage situation very closely…


Please note: The drought affecting Cape Town is regionally specific and has not affected the rest of South Africa. Just 90 minutes away from Cape Town there are no water restrictions whatsoever.


Day Zero is the hypothetical day when dam levels might fall below 13.5% and Cape Town residents would be restricted to 25 liters of water per day in order to ensure that the dams do not run dry. It is NOT the day that Cape Town runs out of water.


Government agencies and South African Tourism have released numerous statements and FAQs noting that they expect everything to be ok and contingency plans are in place… 8 water desalinization plants will be coming online this March, boreholes are being drilled, and water will be brought in by road. Travelers will have access to drinking water and most hotels have made private arrangements. Cape Town’s city center has been designated a ‘continuous water supply’ area which means that the impact of a potential “Day Zero” will be minimal on international visitors.


However, having noted the above, we simply don’t know what will happen. I have read worst case scenarios written by engineers and other experts that there could be theft of water from swimming pools and storage tanks, military protecting water points, people marching in the streets, the sewer system my cease to function, and property values could drop precipitously…


For travelers who plan on visiting Cape Town this June / July we cannot say what will happen. Everything may be normal due to the rains having started in April – or not.


If you wish to change your plans to avoid Cape Town all together – or perhaps fly into Cape Town but stay further east along the coast – let us know… we will do our best to make these adjustments. Most airline ticket changes and some hotel cancellations will incur penalties – we are not certain if these extra costs will be covered by travel insurance as this has never occurred before.


For travelers visiting Cape Town August 2018 and onwards into 2019 it may make sense to wait and see if the rains materialize in April / May, and if they don’t, how the city copes.

Also consider Lorna in our office is from Zimbabwe and there have been many times over recent years where water has been shut off and sewer pipes have been clogged with sand / dirt in the capital Harare… her family and friends along with businesses / hotels have survived quite well…

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