We’re the first to admit that the world climate is a little haywire at the moment. Wildfires from California to Greece and Sweden, melting ice caps, floods and droughts. And boy do we know about droughts.
Over the last couple of years, South Africa’s Western Cape and specifically Cape Town, where we are based, has had a bad run of luck on the climate front. In 2017 the rains just did not arrive in winter. The rest of the country was getting rain, hell even the mountains just an hour or two from us were getting rain, but none of this was going into our catchment area so it didn’t help us. Then we had a very hot summer and things began to look seriously dire. As our dams dropped to below 20%, it was predicted on CNN and elsewhere that Cape Town would probably be the first major city worldwide to run out of water.
Except it didn’t happen. Well, not quite like that.
The politicians fought with each other. National government vs local government. Fingers were pointed. Promises were made. Business suffered, tourists did not know whether to visit or not. Unsure what to believe, Capetonians pulled together. We rationed ourselves. We learned to shower less frequently or, with a friend… Lawns and non-indigenous plants were left to die. People installed rain tanks, dug bore holes and well points. Water experts were called in. Work began on desalination plants, aquifers and every other source of water.
We kicked complacency to the curb, we got organized, we got smart.
And then, this winter, the rains came. And came and came and came. They brought snowfall and essential snowmelt which brought even more water into our dams. Those dams now sit at 56,9% and even more rain is expected over the next few months. We are out of the woods and there’s never been a better time to visit our beautiful city.
We’re under no illusions that the good old days will return. Everyone, from Cape Town to Connecticut, Cairo and Cannes needs to think about water as being a precious resource rather than a given. But we’ve had our scare and we’ve adapted. Cape Town is water-wise and ready for business, come hell or high water.