A Closer Look at Cape Town’s Water Situation

06 March 2018


The water situation in Cape Town has been hitting headlines worldwide in recent months and whilst it remains serious, locals and tourists alike are rallying to keep South Africa’s Mother City on its feet.

As Day Zero is postponed once again, Cape Town and the surrounding area can breathe a temporary sigh of relief and high levels of winter rain fall predicted, it is hoped that Day Zero may never come to fruition after all. Understandably though, visitors to South Africa’s shores will undoubtedly have concerns of whether it is still safe to go, what measures are in place and if it is still a good idea to travel there. We ask our South Africa experts to unravel the media frenzy and debunk some of the myths surrounding the situation, explaining why now is as good a time as any to visit.

Where exactly is the water shortage?

Water restrictions are currently in place in the Cape region, which includes Cape Town and stretches further afield to the Winelands area. The further you are from Cape Town, the more relaxed the measures, and the less likely they are to affect your stay.

What has caused it?

For the last three years, the region has experienced very little rainfall and as a result, water levels at the Theewaterskloof Dam have been rapidly declining, starving the city of its water supply. This, paired with a booming population, has put strain on resources leading to the countdown to Day Zero. Day Zero has now been postponed indefinitely thanks to dam levels consistently rising over the course of the last two months.

What does the water shortage mean for visitors?

South Africa Tourism has confirmed that despite the water crisis, Cape Town is unequivocally open for business. Nonetheless, measures are in place at hotels throughout the city to help reduce water usage. So, being mindful of water usage during your stay in the city is essential, you might, for example, find linen and towels are not changed as frequently and that some spa facilities are closed. The V&A Waterfront desalination plant, located near to many of the city’s most exclusive hotels, will provide water to many properties on the stream.

Will I make the situation worse by visiting?

In fact, it has been said that it is quite the opposite is true. As Cape Town is a popular destination to start or end a safari, a road trip or a vacation touring the Winelands, the impact of short stays in the city is negligible on the overall levels of water usage.

Where can I go instead of Cape Town? Is the rest of the country OK?

South Africa is a vast and varied country and many areas have not been affected by the drought. Only 90 minutes from Cape Town airport, Hermanus has not been affected in the same way and further afield, the KwaZulu Natal battlefields, the Garden Route and the Kruger continue to operate as normal.

Why should I still go on vacation to South Africa?

With so much to see and do outside of Cape Town, it is important to remember that South Africa is as equipped to welcome visitors as ever before. It is essential that South Africa sees its economy continue to grow and encourages tourism to thrive. As one of the pillars of the South African economy, creating over 300,000 jobs for local people, there is a definitive focus on keeping the industry alive. South Africa is an unrivalled destination for a malaria free safari, a self-drive itinerary and to combine a city escape with unforgettable wildlife experiences.

Any final thoughts?

By adopting the mantra ‘save like a local’, visitors can help reduce water consumption and support tireless efforts to preserve the beautiful city of Cape Town for generations to come.

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