One way of looking at the impending crisis of a waterless Cape Town is that we are certainly getting a crash course in disaster management. I am enormously impressed with the City of Cape Town’s media release** yesterday, about how things can be managed for the best, who is ready and able to get involved (eg. retailers, traffic police, etc) and what each of us can do to avoid Day Zero altogether. It’s most likely that none of the people now involved in crisis management were responsible for allowing this major f%#k-up to happen in the first place, so their efforts are especially laudable.
** In case anyone is interested in reading it, here’s a link to the release: CITY OF CAPE TOWN
Realistically, many people will not sufficiently reduce their water consumption and it’s a matter of a few more weeks before the taps run dry. We will then each be allowed to take 25 litres of water a day from one of the city’s 200 wellpoints. It won’t be nice, but we won’t die.
I saw this post from an American citizen on a friend’s facebook page this morning, and it struck me how spot-on he is about this being a wake-up call for the whole world – we must never ever take any natural resource for granted again.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing my beloved city’s problem here. I believe the issue has made the news around the world so I thought some of you would be interested.
Experiment in patchwork heart-shaped cushion: relatively quick to make, enjoyable to stuff and hand-stitch edges with perle cotton while watching a Season 2 episode of Top of the Lake, make sure the bottom lines up properly next time. I plan to make a batch for the next Made in the Cape market, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The bathroom took longer to sort out than I’d anticipated so no worthwhile pic to show you yet. I’ll be moving on to the sewing room next, but the week has been interrupted – very happily – with more overseas orders for pillow cases and the discovery of a fabulous new Italian restaurant in Observatory. Forneria Italia doesn’t have an alcohol license yet, so take your own wine. Best.pizza.ever. Thanks to Gwenni for the recommendation.
And the last thing for today, particularly for Cape Town readers: Level 6b water restrictions will be coming into effect from 1 February, as you probably already know (and we’re all trying not to panic too much) but how useful is this from EyeWitness News:
RAIN. PLEASE. SOON.
I am here: on a farm just outside Ladismith, in the Klein Karoo.
It’s hot and dry, as you can see, but there is no shortage of water because there’s a private dam and a windpump system set up to pump water straight from the surrounding mountains. So, YES, I can run a deep bath without guilt and even extend shower time from 45 seconds to any length of time I feel like….. The exact opposite of what it is like in Cape Town now, as we get closer to DAY ZERO. Level 6 water restrictions will be implemented from next week and we will all be paying a drought levy from February 2018 onwards (based on the value of one’s property). I have mixed feelings about this – on the one hand, Capetonians are all in this together and have to do the best we can to save water, and on the other, 66% of residents are clearly not doing their bit and don’t care that there’s extra cost involved because they are wealthy enough not to feel the impact. The arrogance! I’ll be very amused to see some of those high-and-mighties impatiently queuing at the nearest mountain spring to fill their empty containers along with the rest of the hoi polloi.
In the meantime, from a cool cottage in the Karoo (about 4 hours out of Cape Town), where you must keep your eyes open for cobras and boomslangs when you go for a walk and the doors bolted when you go out because the baboons are way ahead of things like locks and keys, where the loudest sound is the silence of this extraordinary mountain country punctuated by bird calls, and where I am finding some wonderful peacefulness both within me and without, I hope you are all having happy holiday times.
That’s the name given to Cape Town, in the late 1400s, by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias: Cabo das Tormentas. 4 million people live here and, while many of us know it by different names in various languages, this epithet has particular resonance right now.
Our winters are usually wet, wild and stormy – but we had very low rainfall during this past winter, and the dams were low to start with. The result is a severe water shortage. Fingers are being pointed at politicians and administrators and, if some experts are to be believed, we will have run out of water by March 2018. If you are planning to holiday in South Africa this Christmas season, especially down here on the coast, you’re going to be constantly reminded not to waste a drop. The City of Cape Town municipality is urging us all not to flush toilets unless absolutely essential, and to shower only once in every two or three days, among other things. A dirty car is now a sign that you are “doing your bit”, and grey (water) is the new black.
I came across this clip by Chronicle Digital via The Daily Maverick, which I’m posting here for any South African readers who may have missed it, but also because it presents some images of this country that do not usually feature in travel commercials and tourist advertisements. I hope you find them interesting.
PS. The water that you see people filling the 5-litre bottles with is coming straight off Table Mountain from a natural stream. It is marvellous and free – but again, a privilege for only those of us who have (a) a car, (b) money for petrol, (c) the time to collect it. And even then, I have witnessed fights break out in the queues to get to the spring’s openings!