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Cape Town’s water crisis, what's next?

As Cape Town's population has grown, so did demand for water. Unpredictable weather patterns in recent years have plunged the city into strict water restrictions in a time of drought. So now we ask – What’s Next?

© The South African Railway & Harbours Publicity & Travel Department
Cape Town had a very different look and lifestyle in 1896.
Five facts about Cape Town's water story

  1. The current drought is not the first for the Mother City. Well over a hundred years ago when the city was much smaller, in 1881, a severe water shortage saw residents restricted to only four hours of water a day.
  2. Between 1893 and 1910, five dams were built on the top of Table Mountain to supply the city’s residents. At the time, this was enough. Today, these dams form only a tiny part of the city’s drinking water supply
  3. In 1913 (105 years ago), Cape Town became a unified, 11-municipality coalition as water needs began to exceed supply. The coalition was responsible for building a dam downstream from the water source area in the Boland Mountains – the Steenbras Dam.
  4. 100 years ago, in 1918, work began on the Steenbras dam which was completed three years later. It was connected to the Molteno reservoir in the city centre, below Table Mountain in Oranjezicht, by a 64 kilometre cast iron pipe. This was the city’s main supply for the first half of the twentieth century.
  5. Since then, other dams supplying Cape Town have been developed. These include Voelvlei (1952/1971), Wemmershoek (1957), Theewaterskloof (1978) and the Berg River Dam (2009).
Is Cape Town geared up to ensure it is prepared for the environmental challenges that lie ahead? At WWF’s 2018 Living Planet Conference on 25 July, a group of water-minded experts will discuss and share solution to this and other urgent challenges and arising opportunities in South Africa.

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Cape Town has exploded into a hub of South Africa.
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Join WWF’s Living Planet Conference on 25 July via livestream or follow the conversation on Twitter #LPC2018 #AmanziAction.