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Sisulu to announce water restrictions to avoid ‘much-dreaded day zero’

Officials are worried over the increase in consumption in South Africa with proper rain only expected to hit the country around December.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu briefs the media on Gauteng's water crisis on 28 October 2019 in Johannesburg. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu called on South Africans to urgently cut back on their water usage, saying there was no crisis yet but that could change.

Officials are worried over the increase in consumption in South Africa, with proper rain only expected to hit the country around December.

* INTERACTIVE: Government or God - SA's water crisis

Sisulu held a briefing on Monday, where she announced she will be unveiling a master plan in November aimed at dealing with water challenges in the country.

She said she was worried about South Africa’s water consumption with dam levels running low due to poor rainfall.

“We are experiencing what we call ‘water stress’. We are facing hard realities now and have to immediately begin to disaster-proof South Africa.”

Sisulu has urged South Africans to use water sparingly or face catastrophic consequences.

“As we work hard to avoid much-dread day zero, I will be announcing water restrictions on water usage.”

The minister, however, said South Africans should not panic.

WATCH: Water Minister says South Africa is experiencing water stress

WHAT IS 'DAY ZERO'?

The term 'day zero' was introduced by the Democratic Alliance-run City of Cape Town in 2017 amid a water crisis and drought in the province.

The term was used by the City to describe the day that Cape Town would run out of water.

The government declared a national disaster over the drought-afflicted southern and western regions, including Cape Town, which meant the government could spend more money and resources to deal with the crisis.

Faced with severe water restrictions and punitive levies, residents of Cape Town had cut collective consumption by more than half in the last three years. At the time, the city targeted a daily consumption rate of no more than 450 million litres.

Hundreds of Cape Town residents were forced to line up overnight to stock up on water in the country's second-largest economic hub and tourist attraction.

Several desalination plants were planned and together with underground water reserves were expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Several desalination plants were planned and together with underground water reserves were expected to help augment water sources well into the future.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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