Day Zero

Have you read the news?  Cape Town, a city of over three million people, has nearly run out of water.  The prediction, if residents and businesses do not drastically change their water consumption habits, is that the city’s taps will run dry on July 9, at which time they will have to line up for a daily water ration of 25 liters.

Some challenges the region faces are years of drought, a changing climate, a growing population, poor water usage practices, etc.  Now they must deal with a disastrous problem that is foreseen to persist for possibly decades to come.

Humans have a tendency to take more than they need, and to take it at a rate that the earth cannot replenish fast enough – if at all.  With changing climates and an ever-growing global population, how we are ravaging our resources is not sustainable.  I see this almost daily in North America – a wasteful culture.

The water crisis is not exclusive to Cape Town.  In can (and will) happen anywhere, and with our ever changing climate, water will become a scarce resource that humans will have to migrate for.

With Cape Town’s daily 25 L ration, I wanted to know how much water I used in a day and how this ration would limit me; since our water runs freely from the tap, I really have never had to measure this.  I spent one day measuring out all of my water usage, and this is what I found (numbers are approximate – it is difficult to measure exact):

  • I went 10 liters over my ration; my family did not join me in this experiment, so the 25 L ration would not have sustained us
  • only 2 out of the 35 L were for hydrating
  • more than 1 L preparing and cooking food
  • more than 2 L washing/rinsing dishes
  • more than 4 L used in bathroom sinks for washing/rinsing

What used up the most water?

  • the toilet; four flushes equated to 24 L

Yes, you can get water-saving toilets, but most households use copious amounts of freshwater just to flush, and you would have to drastically ration your flushes to save that water; the “socially accepted” flush amount is after every use.  Keep in mind, my experiment was only me – I did not account for other flushes or other water usage in my household.  Regardless, I exceeded my ration, and it is not our hot season – we would have to save much more to keep our family safe and hydrated through the hot months if we were living Cape Town’s struggle.

What I was/would not be able to do with my 25 L daily ration:

  • wash my hair
  • have a bath or shower
  • leave the tap running at any point
  • water the lawn or wash a car
  • water my plants/garden
  • flush after every use
  • run the dishwasher
  • laundry

I urge you to analyze your own wasteful habits and start changing one small thing.  If that means you shut the tap off while brushing your teeth – good for you!  If that means using rinse water to water your plants – excellent.  Do something.  Do anything.  Our current practices are not sustainable.  Our society needs to change their actions for prevention, and not just “We’ll change once the problem exists”.

Water is a common topic of mine.  Read about what I think our main problems concerning water are here: World Water Day.  Read about ways to conserve here.




  1. great article , liebe nadine , and that sounds all so familiar to me like on 1108 on the mountain …..
    yes , life was different on our own well , and not simply “out of the tab” from “somewhere else”;
    we had to be responsible for our own sake , and we were , remember ?
    thanks again for let others know and wake them up …the next wars will be about water .


  2. I am not connected to town water. I just have a rain water tank so I am super conscious of water consumption. Water is life. I save water wherever I can. I wish more people cared about the absolutely precious resource that pours out our taps. We are so so lucky to have safe drinking water but I don’t think people think often enough about this absolute privilege.


    • I wish people cared more too. At my dads place we had a well and had to conserve quite a bit. We also had a grey water catcher from the laundry that would be reused for dark wash, and then the rinse water got transferred to wash out into the garden. It was a great system.

      Liked by 1 person

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