Imagine if one day you turned on your faucet and nothing coming came out.
That prospect was almost a reality for the 4 million people in Cape Town, South Africa. Following years of crippling drought, the major coastal metropolis recently came dangerously close to Day Zero, the date it would have run almost entirely out of drinking water and had to shut off the taps, forcing residents to wait in lines for water rations. The ominous deadline was originally set for April 2018, but has since been pushed back to 2019 because of tightly enforced water-use restrictions. Since February, residents have only been allowed to use 50 liters of water -- 13.2 gallons -- per person per day (by contrast, the average American consumes an estimated 80 to 100 gallons a day).
Cape Town is the first major city in modern history to come that close to running out of water. But it’s likely not the last.
Major water shortages are predicted to become increasingly common in many cities and rural areas throughout the world, as urban populations surge, water consumption rises and climate change leads to more frequent and severe droughts.