The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Wednesday called for Cape Town to introduce emergency by-laws for groundwater sharing when the city becomes the first in the world to run dry after water restrictions become insufficient amid a three-year drought.

“Life beyond Day Zero will present exceptional circumstances, and we hope that emergency by-laws will be brought in to enable Capetonians to use and share groundwater with neighbours for more uses in order to relieve the burden on the City’s emergency Points of Distribution (PoDs),” the WWF said in a press release.

Cape Town last week drastically cut water restrictions again from 87 litres per person per day to 50 litres – about two-and-a-half standard buckets – as it continues to struggle with a lack of rains that traditionally filled catchment areas and supplied the city and surrounding areas.

On Tuesday, the city’s Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson who has taken over management of the water crisis from Mayor Patricia de Lille‚ said Day Zero when taps would run dry was coming earlier than expected on April 12, unless Capetonians reduced their water use immediately by 25%.

Day Zero was previously set at April 21.

Neilson said only 41% of the city’s occupants were using less than 87 litres of water a day, making the new restrictions from February 1 vital. The region’s dam levels had fallen further over the past week and now stand at a mere 27.2% of capacity.

Earlier this week, Hellen Zille said the Western Cape water crisis should be declared a a national disaster.

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