The lessons New Zealand could learn from the Cape Town water crisis

As Cape Town struggles to avoid fully running out of water experts are wondering if New Zealand could ever face the same fate.

Residents from capital of South Africa have been told water reserves are so low they could run out of water on April 12.

They're now being asked to limit their water usage to 87 litres a day, but from February 1 this will be further restricted to 50 litres, or the equivalent of four toilet flushes.

The Project spoke to Canterbury University water expert Professor Jenny Webster-Brown about if this could ever hit New Zealand - and the news is not good.

"Wherever you have people taking water at a greater rate than it is being replenished, you run the risk of running out of water - it's as simple as that," she said.

New Zealand's water infrastructure has already proven to be vulnerable in incidents in Auckland, Mangawhai and Wellington.

However Prof Webster-Brown says New Zealand could learn from Cape Town and hopefully avoid such a problem in future.

"[Cape Town has] struggled to get people to save water. We need to create a behavioural change so people conserve water, particularly in times of crisis," she said.

Prof Webster-Brown says there are a few big areas to focus on when conserving water.

"The vast majority of our water use for those in cities is flushing toilets, having long showers, and laundry water."


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