In 2015, the City of Cape Town won a prestigious international award recognising their efforts at Water Conservation and Demand Management (WCWDM).
Cape Town was particularly successful at reducing water loss through leaks, with a water loss rate of 14 per cent, compared to a national average of 35 per cent.
In 2003, the City entered into an agreement with the then Department of Water Affairs and Forestry for the construction of the Berg River Dam and Supplement Scheme and also commenced water demand management.
In 2009, the storage capacity of the dams supplying Cape Town was increased by 17 percent from 768 to 898 million cubic metres when the Berg River Dam and Supplement scheme were completed.
The Cape Town water crisis in South Africa was a period of severe water shortage in the Western Cape region, most notably affecting the City of Cape Town.
While dam water levels had been declining since 2015, the Cape Town water crisis peaked during mid-2017 to mid-2018 where water levels hovered between 15 to 30 per cent of total dam capacity.The immediate cause of the water crisis was the extreme drought from 2015-2017 that exceeded the planning norms of the Department of Water and Sanitation.Research on long-term weather data done by the Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town determined that the low rainfall between the years 20 was a very rare and extreme event.The by-laws also specify that water efficient fittings approved by the South African Bureau of Standards should be provided for all new developments and renovations.After good rains in 20, the City of Cape Town began experiencing a drought in 2015, the first of three consecutive years of dry winters brought on possibly by the El Niño weather pattern and perhaps by climate change.The Western Cape Water Supply System relies almost entirely on rainfall, which is captured and stored in six major dams situated in mountainous areas.The dams are recharged by rain falling in the catchment areas, largely during the cooler winter months of May to August, and dam levels decline during the dry summer months of November to April during which urban water use increases and irrigation takes place in the agricultural areas.In mid-January 2018, previous Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille announced that the City would be forced to shut off most of the municipal water supply if conditions did not change.Level 7 water restrictions, "Day Zero", would be declared when the water level of the major dams supplying the City reached 13.5 per cent.In late-2017, there were first mentions of plans for “Day Zero”, a shorthand reference for the day when the water level of the major dams supplying the City fell below 13.5 per cent.“Day Zero” would herald the start of Level 7 water restrictions, where municipal water supplies would largely be switched off and residents would have to queue for their daily ration of water, making the City of Cape Town the first major city in the world to potentially run out of water.