These 11 cities may run out of water like Cape Town

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

Published Feb 13, 2018


CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town's strict control measures on water usage has forced Capetonians to change their water usage behaviours as the city is battling to avoid 'Day Zero', but water scarcity seems to be affecting other global cities, according to BBC News.

The BBC identifies a few other cities that may run out of water - just like the Mother city:

1. São Paulo

File image: IOL

This is one of the most populated cities in the world - over 21.7 million inhabitants. It is reported that its main reservoir levels decreased and hit a 4% capacity.

São Paulo is Brazil's financial capital and went through a similar ordeal like Cape Town in 2015, when the main reservoir fell below 4% capacity. During this period, police had to escort water to avoid chaos residential areas.

"The water crisis was deemed "finished" in 2016, but in January 2017 the main reserves were 15% below expected for the period - putting the city's future water supply once again in doubt,".

2. Bangalore

Photo: Youtube

According to reports, the Asian Development Bank projects that India will have a water deficit of 50% by 2030. The India's technological hub is also believed to have had 285 lakes in the 1970s, this number has decreased to 194 lakes in 2017. 

Local officials in the southern Indian city have been bamboozled by the growth of new property developments following Bangalore's rise as a technological hub and are struggling to manage the city's water and sewage systems.

It is said that the Indian national government found that the city loses over half of its drinking water to waste.

3. Beijing

File image: IOL

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), roughly 20% of the world's population is living within the borders of China, but has only 7% of the world's fresh water, leaving it with much less annual fresh water available per capita than most other countries.

China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research's article notes that Beijing's local water resources have been overexploited and the ecological and environmental pressures exceed the carrying capacity of this densely populated megacity.

Beijing is in a seemingly irreversible trend of shrinking water resources due to climate change.

4. Cairo

File image: IOL

Egypt depends completely only on one river for water supply - the Nile River - which provides over 90% of Egypt's water supply.

World Health Organization figures show that Egypt ranks high among lower-middle-income countries in terms of the number of deaths related to water pollution.

Egypt's water supply could be under immense pressure due to the development and construction of a massive dam, the Renaissance Dam in Ethopia. Egypt fears that this will cut into its water supply, destroying parts of its precious farmland and squeezing its population of 93 million people, who already face water shortages, this according to The Telegraph.

5. Jakarta 

File image: IOL

The Indonesian capital is faces threats of rising sea levels as it lies in the coastal line.

It has reported that this problem has also been worsened by human action through illegal digging of wells. Less than 5 million of the country's 10 million population has access to piped water. Therefore residents resort to illegal diggings.

Also read: Tsogo Sun Holdings to supply its Cape Town hotels with own water

6. Moscow

Photo: Bloomberg

One-quarter of the world's fresh water reserves are in Russia, but the country is plagued by pollution problems caused by the industrial legacy of the Soviet era. 

Official regulatory bodies admit that 35% to 60% of total drinking water reserves in Russia do not meet sanitary standards, according to BBC.

7. Istanbul

File image: IOL

The country is technically in a situation of a water stress since the per capita supply fell below 1,700 cubic metres in 2016. The situation could worsen to water scarcity by 2030, local experts have warned.  

The city's reservoir levels declined to less than 30 percent of capacity at the beginning of 2014.

8. Mexico City

File image: IOL

Water shortages is nothing new to the inhabitants of the Mexican capital. This city imports as much as 40% of its water from distant sources but has no large-scale operation for recycling wastewater. Water is wasted through problems in the pipe network which are also estimated at 40%.

9. London

London Photo: Nicola Mawson

As published in the BBC News article, the Greater London Authority said, the city is pushing close to capacity and is likely to have supply problems by 2025 and "serious shortages" by 2040.

London draws 80% of its water from rivers - the Thames and Lea.

Also read: New banknotes to celebrate Tata Nelson Mandela

10. Tokyo

File image: IOL

This city has a four-month rain concentration season. Climate patterns may change and an expected rainy become the driest, so water needs to be collected.  At least 750 private and public buildings in Tokyo have rainwater collection and utilisation systems.

Tokyo is home to more 30 million people and has a water system that depends 70% on surface water - rivers, lakes, and melted snow. 

11. Miami

File image: IOL

An early 20th Century project to drain nearby swamps had an unforeseen result; water from the Atlantic Ocean contaminated the Biscayne Aquifer, the city's main source of fresh water.

"Although the problem was detected in the 1930s, seawater still leaks in, especially because the American city has experienced faster rates of sea level rise, with water breaching underground defence barriers installed in recent decades" BBC said.

Inter-Ministerial Task Team

In 2015, the South African government established an Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) to actively facilitate the integrated efforts to ensure that the country responds effectively to the drought situation.

The task team recently said that the Department of Water and Sanitation will continue to monitor the levels of the 214 major dams, as this information is critical in understanding the situation around availability of water in the systems.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des van Royen who heads the team said, "The IMTT will continue to communicate through various platforms and channels to inform communities about the effects of climate change, drought and provide water saving/conservation tips. These communication messages on drought are disseminated with the intention of educating and creating the necessary awareness amongst citizens". 

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