The world's first major city at risk of running out of water has pushed back its 'Day Zero' for the third time — in an apparent sign their strategy is working

  • Cape Town, a major city on South Africa's coast, is going through one of the worst droughts in its history.
  • Officials have designated a date on which most taps will be turned off and everyone will be subjected to a strict water-rationing system.
  • It's known as "Day Zero."
  • Day Zero has been rescheduled for the fourth time to July 9, 2018.


Cape Town has postponed the date on which it would run out of water — again.

After three years of persistent drought, the government has warned that the coastal city would be forced to turn off most of its taps in 2018 — a date also known as "Day Zero."

The new Day Zero is now July 9, 2018, the government's official Day Zero tracker said on Tuesday.

The date was previously set at June 4, so the latest update has postponed it by 35 days.

For the past several months, Cape Town citizens have been told to drastically cut their water consumption, a tactic which the city says is starting to work.

day zero july 9 2018City of Cape Town

Officials were able to push back the day after organizing a large transfer of water from elsewhere in the country to their dam systems, Cape Town's executive deputy mayor Alderman Ian Neilson said in a statement to Business Insider.

However, Neilson also warned that Day Zero could also be moved back to June if the city fails to reduce its weekly water usage by 73 million liters, from the current 523 million liters to 450 million liters, by the time the water transfer ends. He did not specify when that would take place.

The city originally set Day Zero at April 21, before moving it forward to April 12, backward to May 11, and back again to June 4.

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Cape Town dangerously close to running out of water
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Cape Town dangerously close to running out of water
People collect drinking water from pipes fed by an underground spring, in St. James, about 25km from the city centre, on January 19, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
People collect drinking water from pipes fed by an underground spring, in St. James, about 25km from the city centre, on January 19, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
People collect drinking water from pipes fed by an underground spring, in St. James, about 25km from the city centre, on January 19, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Sign warning residents of water restrictions is seen in Cape Town, South Africa, October 25, 2017. Picture taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
People collect drinking water from pipes fed by an underground spring, in St. James, about 25km from the city centre, on January 19, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Water levels are seen at about 24 percent full at Voelvlei Dam, one of the regions largest water catchment dams, near Cape Town, South Africa, November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Signs warn residents of water restrictions in Cape Town, South Africa October 17, 2017. Picture taken October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Members of a drilling team prepare to drill at a site where the Cape Town city council has ordered drilling into the aquifer to tap water, in Mitchells Plain, about 25km from the city centre, on January 11, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of a drilling team prepare to drill at a site where the Cape Town city council has ordered drilling into the aquifer to tap water, in Mitchells Plain, about 25km from the city centre, on January 11, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of a drilling team prepare to drill at a site where the Cape Town city council has ordered drilling into the aquifer to tap water, in Mitchells Plain, about 25km from the city centre, on January 11, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of a drilling team prepare to drill at a site where the Cape Town city council has ordered drilling into the aquifer to tap water, in Mitchells Plain, about 25km from the city centre, on January 11, 2018, in Cape Town. Cape Town will next month slash its individual daily water consumption limit by 40 percent to 50 litres, the mayor said on January 18, as the city battles its worst drought in a century. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
Sign warning residents of water restrictions is seen in Cape Town, South Africa, October 25, 2017. Picture taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Residents walk past a leaking communal tap in Khayelitsha township, near Cape Town, South Africa, December 12, 2017. Picture taken December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
Workers are seen as they drill a borehole at a residential home in Cape Town, South Africa, November 8, 2017. Picture taken November 8, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created as a still grab taken from video.) Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Brewery Spring Water Point on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Diminishing water supplies may lead to the taps being turned off for the four millions inhabitants of Cape Town on April 16 2018, known locally as Day Zero. Water will be restricted from 87 litres per day to 50 litres as temperatures reach 28 degrees later this week. Politicians are blaming each other and residents for the deepening crisis. (Photo by Morgana Wingard/Getty Images)
A writes on a placard prior to take part in a protest against the way the Cape Town city council has dealt with issues around water shortages, on January 28, 2018, in Cape Town. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created as a still grab taken from video.) Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Brewery Spring Water Point on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Diminishing water supplies may lead to the taps being turned off for the four millions inhabitants of Cape Town on April 16 2018, known locally as Day Zero. Water will be restricted from 87 litres per day to 50 litres as temperatures reach 28 degrees later this week. Politicians are blaming each other and residents for the deepening crisis. (Photo by Morgana Wingard/Getty Images)
Firefighters walk up along a fire hose after fighting a fire on Table Mountain on January 28, 2018, in Cape Town. Firefighting organitations face an especially difficult next few months as the risks of fires is on the increase, as the summer season reaches it's hottest time, but the Western Cape is facing severe water shortages. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 30: (EDITORS NOTE: Image was created as a still grab taken from video.) Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles at Newlands Spring on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Diminishing water supplies may lead to the taps being turned off for the four millions inhabitants of Cape Town on April 16 2018, known locally as Day Zero. Water will be restricted from 87 litres per day to 50 litres as temperatures reach 28 degrees later this week. Politicians are blaming each other and residents for the deepening crisis. (Photo by Morgana Wingard/Getty Images)
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Should the day come, most of the city's taps will be turned off, and around 20,000 residents would have to queue for water and be subjected to a strict water-rationing system.

Neilson said: "I urge the residents of Cape Town not to ease up on their water-saving efforts. We cannot afford to slow down when the estimated Day Zero date moves out, simply because we cannot accurately predict the volume of rainfall still to come or when it will come."

day zero cape townnatsmason/Instagram

Cape Town's government has been calling on citizens to limit their water usage to 50 liters per day. A five-minute shower uses around 45 liters.

To meet the challenge, residents have been storing water in jugs and collecting free water from local breweries. 

Officials have also recommended that people collect and reuse their bathing water for their toilets, limit showers to two minutes, and wash their hands with hand sanitiser instead of water.

The government is worried that if people can't conserve enough water to avoid the shutoff, there will be anarchy in the city, which is home to 4 million people.

Helen Zille, the premier of the Western Cape province, said earlier this year that the challenge faced by the city "exceeds anything a major city has had to face anywhere in the world since the Second World War or 9/11."

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