In yet another example of possible climate change, the popular tourist city of Cape Town in South Africa is in serious trouble. After suffering drought for three years, with little rainfall in the typical winter rainy season, the city could reach critical levels by April 21 when dams fall below 13.5 percent capacity. Many residents have ignored warnings to reduce their water usage, adding to the crisis, where locals have exceeded recommended limits of daily water consumption.

Dam levels in Cape Town sitting at average 30 percent

As reported by the Herald Scotland, currently dam levels in Cape Town are sitting below 30 percent, with residents capped at an allowed water usage of 87 liters per person, per day.

However, despite the severe water restrictions, many have ignored warnings and have continued to use excess amounts of the precious commodity. Now authorities are warning that despite what are termed “level six” restrictions on the 3.7 million residents in Cape Town, “Day Zero” is coming soon, where the city is predicted to run out of water completely.

Lack of traditional winter rainfall

Cape Town and the surrounding coast have been renowned for an abundance of natural water, with heavy winter rains topping up the coffers each year. The city is sited in a natural bowl, making the perfect catchment area for rainfall, fed into the surrounding dams.

In previous years, with normal rainfall, the city has received as much as three times the amount of water used by residents each year, but those days are long gone.

The Standard quotes Kevin Winter, a lecturer at the University of Cape Town in environmental science, as warning that the less frequent winter rains have caused levels to drastically drop in the dams, which are now sitting at 30 percent of normal capacity.

Winter said it has rained, but not anywhere near enough to fill up the city's dams.

Currently, Cape Town is experiencing summer, and Winter says in normal years, rainfall would start around April, but in recent years has only begun towards the end of June or early in July.

Winter added that they need as much as three years’ worth of rainfall to bring the level of the dams up to levels seen before 2015.

He added that the area is currently experiencing rapid changes in weather patterns, which he says are indicative of climate change.

City attempts to find other water sources

As the water supply began to dwindle, officials in Cape Town attempted various methods to avert “Day Zero,” including restrictions on locals’ water usage. They are also looking at ways to find other sources of the precious water. While typically relying on surface water, authorities are exploring alternative supplies to fill up the dams, including drilling into aquifers and sea water purification. Water recycling is another possible solution.

Patricia de Lille, Cape Town’s mayor, said the city is working hard to bring additional water into the city from various sources, adding that water restrictions were put in place long before they were needed. She said that without those restrictions, the coastal city would have already run out of water. Now locals wait to see what will happen before "Day Zero" hits on April 21.