Even luxury hotels are being forced to take drastic measures.
Cape Town
Credit: Dr Neil Overy/Getty Images

Hotels have not been immune to the pressures of drought in Cape Town, as the city counts down to the day when it will be forced to turn off its public water supply.

The South African city is set to turn off the taps May 11, in what would be a first for a modern city.

“The city of Cape Town could conceivably become the first major city to run out of water, and that could happen in the next four months,” Anthony Turton, who teaches at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, told the The New York Times.

Even luxury hotels have encouraged guests to forego sheet and towel washing, only flush the toilet when absolutely necessary, and limit showers to 90 seconds, the Independent reported. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down,” boutique hotel Kensington Place told guests.

The measures in place at hotels, including reducing towel use and closing steam rooms, are nothing compared to the restrictions placed on Cape Town residents. The government has encouraged Capteonians to use 50 liters or less per person per day — for reference, the average U.S. resident uses 300-375 liters (80-100 gallons) of water per day, according to the United States Geological Survey. Cape Town residents are expected to flush the toilet no more than once a day and to shower for less than a minute, while staying vigilant for water thieves masquerading as city employees.

The date of “Day Zero,” when engineers turn the taps off, has been continually revised in the past few months. At first slated for several different dates in April, authorities moved the date to May 11, citing a decline in agricultural water use, according to the Associated Press. If the shutoff day does arrive, Cape Town residents will need to wait in line at 200 water collection points around the city to collect their 25 liters of rationed water, The Guardian reported.