The idea that major cities across the globe might start running out of water is a frightening prospect. But that’s exactly what experts are warning could happen if we don’t start addressing problems in the way we use and manage water. Several big cities have already been identified as “at risk” and the UN has stated that two-thirds of the world could be living in water-stressed conditions by 2025, with around 25% experiencing absolute water scarcity.
Cape Town and the effects of “Day Zero”
Day Zero sounds like a premise for a gruesome horror movie. But it’s a term used to describe the situation where water reserves in a major city are depleted to the level where the central supply is turned off and water has to be rationed. Sound far-fetched? Well, Cape Town became the first global city last year where this nearly happened. This is not just about global warming. Although Cape Town was pushed over the edge by low rainfall levels, the situation was made much worse by bad water management – with the city losing as much as 37% of supply due to leaks and the government being ill-equipped to deal with a crisis.
Cape Town is not the only city with problems. A number of other big cities have been identified as approaching a “Day Zero” crisis point due to a combination of climate change and inefficient use of water supply. These include Tokyo, London, Los Angeles and Beijing. Another report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified European countries including Spain, Belgium, Italy and Germany as being water-stressed.