Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Cape Town residents line up to refill water bottles. Photo: Morgana Wingard / Getty Images

With reservoirs already extremely low after a punishing drought, Cape Town is now projected to run out of water as early as July. The city of 4 million has implemented drastic conservation measures, restricting residents to 50 liters (13 gallons) of water per day, around 15% as much as the average person in the U.S.

The details: Cape Town’s usage caps mean foregoing everyday comforts — hand-washing clothes and dishes, flushing the toilet once per day and of course leaving lawns to dry out. These measures aim to see the city through the final two months of the dry season.

Severe water shortages are increasingly common around the world. Over the last decade, the Millennium Drought in Australia threatened the water supplies of Melbourne and Brisbane. A years-long drought in California led to cuts in irrigation water in 2014 and state-wide water restrictions in 2015. There have been ongoing shortages in Mexico City, where up to 20% of the population (around 4 million people) have gone without regular access to tap water.

What's next: As urban populations continue to grow, and climate change continues to shift precipitation patterns and drive up temperatures, the risks of water disruptions around the world will only increase.

What cities can do:

  1. Conserve water now, as options are limited once crisis hits. Implement land-use strategies to retain water, like natural areas and wetlands.
  2. Avoid overextending supply lines, which are more vulnerable to disasters and increase the likelihood of overuse.
  3. Prepare for the future effects of climate change on water availability. Existing water infrastructure will become less and less sufficient as supplies dwindle, populations expand and precipitation timing changes.

The bottom line: Cities cannot afford to view their water supplies as guaranteed. To develop disaster and climate resilience will take political will, commitment and major investment.

Aaron Packman is a professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Water Research at Northwestern University.

Go deeper

Technical glitch in Facebook's ad tools creates political firestorm

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor

Facebook said late Thursday that a mix of "technical problems" and confusion among advertisers around its new political ad ban rules, caused issues affecting ad campaigns of both parties.

Why it matters: A report out Thursday morning suggested the ad tools were causing campaign ads, even those that adhered to Facebook's new rules, to be paused. Very quickly, political campaigners began asserting the tech giant was enforcing policies in a way that was biased against their campaigns.

Updated 51 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
1 hour ago - Health

States beg for Warp Speed billions

A COVID-19 drive-thru testing center yesterday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Photo: David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP

Operation Warp Speed has an Achilles' heel: States need billions to distribute vaccines — and many say they don't have the cash.

Why it matters: The first emergency use authorization could come as soon as next month, but vaccines require funding for workers, shipping and handling, and for reserving spaces for vaccination sites.