When it finally came, restaurant diners rushed outside mid-meal to see the deluge for themselves. Others grabbed buckets to collect precious water from gutters to be used for washing clothes.
In a restaurant in Cape Town and suddenly the rain hits – everyone goes outside to see.
— James Longman (@JamesAALongman) February 9, 2018
South Africa’s second-largest city and its surrounding areas received between 2 millimeters and 10 millimeters of rainfall Friday night, according to the Cape Town Weather Office. The city can expect 2 millimeters to 8 millimeters of rainfall Monday evening and into Tuesday morning — less than an inch — with no further rain expected later in the week.
Despite the paucity, the precipitation was a welcome sight for residents who haven’t seen rain since January 22, and they collected water in buckets and tanks, with plans to use it for everything from washing clothes and dishes to flushing toilets.
But it is unlikely to make a significant impact on the city’s largest reservoir, Theewaterskloof Dam, which satellite images show is at dangerously low levels.
‘You feel guilty flushing toilets’
Since February 1, residents have seen their water usage downsized from 87 to 50 liters a day — or a little over 13 gallons.
The city is also rushing to upgrade its water systems and is building desalination, aquifer and water-recycling projects to help stretch the current supply.
Another Cape Town resident, 30-year-old Jennifer Stock, said no drop of precious water is wasted in her home. “We shower over buckets, and then use that water elsewhere in the house or garden,” she said.
“We have to think about everything we do, prioritize what we will use our water for — do I want a cup of tea or to be able to keep a small plant alive that will help the bees and birds survive?”
She added, “You can’t have a nice long shower after a hard day’s work.”