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How to prevent cities from drying up


The South African city of Cape Town, home to more than four million people, is set to run out of water in a matter of weeks. It is a crisis that threatens to be repeated globally.

In December 2017, Dr Seona Candy drove through the vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley near Cape Town towards the banks of the Sonderend River. In the late 1970s, the waterway was dammed to create the biggest reservoir in South Africa’s Western Cape. Behind the thick walls of the Theewaterskloof Dam lay the capacity to hold 480 million cubic metres of water, nearly half of Cape Town’s water supply. In under a month it could be empty!

The city has been in drought since 2015. Its population has almost doubled since 1995, from 2.4 million to 4.3 million, putting pressure on the urban water system. At the end of last year’s dry season, the water behind Theewaterskloof Dam was less than 13 per cent full....

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