• Daily water limit per person down from 87 litres.
  • At current consumption levels water will run out by 12 April.
  • New 50 litre-limit aims to delay Day Zero long enough for the rainy season to arrive.

Day Zero - the day when Cape Town, South Africa could be the world's first major city to run out of water - is approaching.

An extended drought has reduced reservoirs to dangerously low levels. At current rates of consumption, water is expected to run out on 12 April.

In an effort to delay Day Zero, the city's four million residents will face strict water rationing from 1 February. Residents will be limited to 50 litres per day, down from the current limit of 87 litres.

What can you do with 50 litres of water per day? According to the South African Eyewitness News, 50 litres per day will cover:

  • Washing dishes and doing laundry: 18 litres
  • One 90-second shower: 15 litres
  • One toilet flush: 9 litres
  • Brushing teeth: 3 litres
  • Cooking: 2 litres
  • Drinking enough water: 2 litres
  • Filling one dog bowl: 1 litre

How does this compare to the average water use per person per day in other countries?

  • USA: 410 litres
  • Australia: 340 litres
  • Japan: 314 litres
  • Russia: 248 litres
  • Saudi Arabia: 235 litres
  • China: 178 litres
  • UK: 150 litres
  • Germany: 122 litres

If Day Zero arrives before the rainy season, most of the city's taps will be cut off, and the security forces will be drafted in to guard collection points where people would have to queue for a daily ration of just 25 litres. Only hospitals, key economic and industrial areas and densely populated areas with a higher risk of disease will be exempt from the cut-off.

Drought in Cape Town Day Zero
People fill up water containers ahead of new 50 litre per day limits RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images