Ex-Capetonian and Meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, and his family, took the plunge and turned off their taps for 24 hours. The family of three restricted themselves to 25 litres per person in solidarity with the people of Cape Town, who are facing water restrictions because of a severe drought. To represent Day Zero, the day when Cape Town’s taps are expected to shut off, now moved to 9 July – Van Dam took the plunge.
“Cape Town’s struggle hits close to home for us. My wife and I met there. She was born and raised there. And I lived there for nearly a decade.”
For the first time in history, a major city will be forced to turn off water to conserve the last drops and stave off a disaster. Capetonians have to realise that 25l is not very much, and stricter water saving methods needs to to be put into place in homes if we want to push Day Zero further away. Van Dam explained, in their experience, the restrictions tested their patience especially since he was denied an extra cup of water for coffee. Van Dam now lives in Atlanta, in the United States with his family.
“Denying me an extra cup of coffee first thing in the morning is like depriving a young child of his toys. I use coffee as a frivolous example, but of course, we had to take more extreme measures to abide by the strict water restrictions that Cape Town faces.”
Van Dam added this experience really began to hit home when they stared at the roughly 75 litres for a family of three, and realised they still need to bath, flush their toilets, brush their teeth, do laundry, cook food, stay hydrated and feed the pets.
In order to stretch limited resources in the city, drastic changes needs to be made. Cold showers are going to be a thing – in Winter – since there will be no water in the geysers. The other option is to boil water. The other major issue is food, we use water in food preparation and that too needs to be limited.
There are many amazing recipes online to cook with little or no water. Restaurants like the Test Kitchen are also doing there part by creating, ‘drought menus’.
“Taking a bath had become a team sport. As the water cooled quickly in the tub, my wife kindly brought me the remainder of the stovetop water. I lathered up as fast as possible with small amounts of soap and called it good. This sponge bath wasn’t, by any stretch, my standard TV-ready clean,” said Van Dam.
“There is the hope that this will be one of the city’s finest moments, preventing a humanitarian crisis.”