Cape Town's Theewaterskloof dam in July, 2017.
  • The WWF released its list of 20 cities at risk of experiencing water shortages
  • The list includes Tel Aviv, Madrid and San Diego. 
  • Cape Town, which tops the list, halved its water consumption withing three years.

Over 100 million people in 20 cities are at risk of losing access to safe drinking water, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) believes. The non-governmental organisation on Wednesday released its list of top 20 cities at risk of experiencing water shortages. 

"This list is not a prediction but it is definitely a clear wake-up call," says Andrea Weiss from WWF South Africa. "These cities urgently need to think about water resilience under conditions of climate change and address water risks."

The top 20 cities at risk of water shortage are: 

1. Cape Town, South Africa

2. Tel Aviv, Israel

3. Valparaíso, Chile

4. Amman, Jordan

5. Havana, Cuba

6. Oxnard, USA

7. Santa Barbara, USA

8. Agadir, Morocco

9. Casablanca, Morocco

10.Tunis, Tunisia

11. Bathinda, India

12. Meerut, India

13.Tbilisi, Georgia

14. Madrid, Spain

15. João Pessoa, Brazil

16. Santiago, Chile

17. Chengdu, China

18. San Diego, USA

19. Gurgaon, India

20. Siliguri, India

While Cape Town remains on top of the list, the city on Wednesday announced that it will likely avoid running out of water in 2018 following a massive water saving campaign.  It previously expected that its taps would run dry in April 2018. 

Tim Harris, CEO of Cape Town's investment agency Wesgro, believes the city's "unmatched" water consumption reduction will become international best practice for other cities to follow. 

READ: How Cape Town avoided Day Zero and cut its water usage by 50% in 3 years - it took Melbourne 12 years to do the same

Cape Town was able to reduce water consumption to 516 million litres per day the past week - down from 1.2 billion litres per day in February 2015 - halving its overall consumption. Harris said the city pioneered several water-saving techniques including extreme water pressure reduction in the city's pipe network. 

"This reduction is world-class in its own right, and is now setting the benchmark for countries around the world," Harris said in a statement. 

Newlands residents collect water after the start of 6B water restrictions in Cape Town.

Cape town deputy mayor Ian Neilson, who is in charge of the city's water crisis response, said the implementation of stringent water restrictions, installation of water management devices to limit consumption of high water users and a public water saving campaign helped the city avoid running out of water. 

Capetonians were able to reduce their personal water consumption from a 209 litres per day to 124 litres through flushing toilets only twice a day, using grey water for flushing and limiting showers to 2-minutes. 

Companies also introduced hand sanitisers instead of soap to reduce washing hands, switched off aircons using water and restaurants encouraged clientele to drink bottled water from elsewhere in the country instead of drinking municipal water. 

"Regardless of these efforts, however, we must accept that we can no longer consume water as we did in the past. Sustaining a significantly reduced level of water consumption must become our ‘new normal’," Neilson said. 

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