This is the first major cosmopolitan city to be threatened by the lack of drinking water. Cape Town’s taps could be turned off in April if they don’t receive a significant amount of rain before then. What happens when four million people don’t have access to drinking water?

But Cape Town is not alone. We are seeing other regions with similar threats.

Norimitsu Onishi and Somini Sengupta, writing for the NY Times:

The government cautions that the Day Zero threat will surpass anything a major city has faced since World War II or the Sept. 11 attacks. Talks are underway with South Africa’s police because “normal policing will be entirely inadequate.” Residents, their nerves increasingly frayed, speak in whispers of impending chaos.

The reason for the alarm is simple: The city’s water supply is dangerously close to running dry.

If water levels keep falling, Cape Town will declare Day Zero in less than three months. Taps in homes and businesses will be turned off until the rains come. The city’s four million residents will have to line up for water rations at 200 collection points. The city is bracing for the impact on public health and social order.

Also read: Why Cape Town Is Running Out of Water, and Who’s Next – Craig Welch, National Geographic