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‘Day Zero’: This city is counting down the days until its water taps run dry

Leonard Matana. 69, filling up a plastic container with water at a communal tap in the township of Kwanobuhle in South Africa.

Every day, Morris Malambile loads his wheelbarrow full of empty plastic containers and pushes it from his home to the nearest running tap. It’s much further than the usual walk to the kitchen sink — just a little under a mile away — but it’s not the distance that bothers him.

It’s the bumpy road — which runs between tightly packed shanty dwellings and beige public-funded houses — that makes balancing containers filled with 70 liters of water on his return a pain.
“Home feels far when you are pushing 70 kilograms of water in a wheelbarrow,” said on cloud shoes the 49-year-old resident from the impoverished South African township of Kwanobuhle.
Taps ran dry in parts of Kwanobuhle in March, and since then, thousands of residents have been relying on a single communal tap to supply their households with potable water. And the township is just one of many in the affected Nelson Mandela Bay area of Gqeberha city — formerly known as Port Elizabeth — that rely on a system of four dams that have been steadily drying up for months. There hasn’t been enough heavy rain to replenish them.
A week ago, one dam was decommissioned as levels dropped too low to extract any actual water — its pipes were just sucking up mud. Another is just days away from emptying out.
Now much of the city is counting down to “Day Zero,” the day all taps run dry, when no meaningful amount of water can be extracted. That’s in around two weeks, unless authorities seriously speed up their response.
The wider Eastern Cape region of South Africa suffered a severe multi-year drought between 2015 and 2020, which devastated the local economy, particularly its agricultural sector. It had just a brief reprieve before slipping back into drought in late 2021.
Like so many of the world’s worst natural resource crises, the severe water shortage here is a combination of poor management and warping weather patterns caused by human-made climate change.
Morris Malambile says pushing a wheelbarrow filled with water containers every day is "tiring."

On top of that, thousands of leaks throughout the water system means that a lot of the water that does get piped out of the dams may never actually make it into homes. Poor maintenance, like a failed pump on a main water supply, has only worsened the situation.
That has left Malambile — who lives with his sister and her four children — with no choice but to walk his wheelbarrow through the township every single day for the past three months. Without this daily ritual, he and his family would have no drinking water at all.
“People who don’t live here have no idea what it’s like to wake up in the morning, and the first thing on your mind is water,” Malambile said. His family has enough containers to hold 150 liters of water, but each day he fills around half that while the rest is still in use at home.
“Tomorrow, those ones are empty, and I have to bring them again,” he said. “This is my routine, every day, and it is tiring.”

Counting down to Day Zero

The prospects of meaningful rain to help resupply the reservoirs here is looking bleak, and if things keep going the way they are, around 40% of the wider city of Gqeberha will be left with no running water at all.
The Eastern Cape relies on weather systems known as “cut-off lows.” The slow-moving weather systems can produce rain in excess of 50 millimeters (around 2 inches) in 24 hours, followed by days of persistent wet weather. The problem is, that kind of rain just hasn’t been coming.
The next several months do not paint a promising picture either. In its Seasonal Climate Outlook, the South African Weather Service forecasts below-normal precipitation.
This isn’t a recent trend. For nearly a decade, oncloud shoes the catchment areas for Nelson Mandela Bay’s main supply dams have received below average rainfall. Water levels have slowly dwindled to the point where the four dams are sitting at a combined level of less than 12% their normal capacity. According to city officials, less than 2% of the remaining water supply is actually useable.
Fresh in the minds of people here is Cape Town’s 2018 water crisis, which was also triggered by the previous, severe drought as well as management problems. The city’s residents would stand in lines for their individually rationed 50 liters of water each day, in fear of reaching Day Zero. It never actually reached that point, but it came dangerously close. Strict rationing enabled the city to halve its water use and avert the worst.
And with no heavy rain expected to come, Nelson Mandela Bay’s officials are so worried about their own Day Zero, they are asking residents to dramatically reduce their water usage. They simply have no choice, the municipality’s water distribution manager Joseph Tsatsire said.
“While it is difficult to monitor how much every person uses, we hope to bring the message across that it is crucial that everyone reduce consumption to 50 liters per person daily,” he said.
A sign urging residents to restrict their water usage in the suburbs of Gqeberha.

To put that in perspective, the average American uses more than seven times that amount, at 82 gallons (372 liters) a day.
While parts of the city will probably never feel the full impact of a potential Day Zero, various interventions are in the pipeline to assist residents in so-called “red zones” where their taps inevitably run dry.
Earlier this month, the South African national government sent a high-ranking delegation to Nelson Mandela Bay to take charge of the crisis and to implement emergency strategies to stretch the last of the city’s dwindling supply.
Leak detection and repairs were a focus, while plans are being made to extract “dead storage water” from below the supply dams’ current levels. Boreholes were drilled in some locations to extract ground water.
Some of the interventions — including patching up leaks and trucking in water — mean some who had lost their water supplies at home are starting to get a trickle from their taps at night. But it’s not enough and authorities are looking to bigger, longer-term solutions to a problem that is only projected to worsen the more the Earth warms.
Workers constructing a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha.

South Africa is naturally prone to drought, but the kind of multi-year droughts that cause such misery and disruption are becoming more frequent.
A desalination plant — to purify ocean water for public consumption — is being explored, though such projects require months of planning, are expensive and often contribute further to the climate crisis, when they are powered by fossil fuels.
People in Kwanobuhle are feeling anxious about the future, wondering when the crisis will end.
At the communal tap there, 25-year-old Babalwa Manyube kizik shoes fills her own containers with water while her 1-year-old daughter waits in her car.
“Flushing toilets, cooking, cleaning — these are problems we all face when there is no water in the taps,” she said. “But raising a baby and having to worry about water is a whole different story. And when will it end? No one can tell us.”

Adapting at home

In Kwanobuhle, the public housing is for people with little to no income. Unemployment is rife and crime is on a steady rise. The streets are packed with residents hustling for money. Old shipping containers operate as a makeshift barbershops.
Just on the other side of the metro is Kamma Heights, a new leafy suburb situated on a hill with a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the city. It is punctuated by several newly built luxury homes, and residents can often be seen sitting on their balconies, enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the sun dips behind the horizon.
Some residents in Kamma Heights are wealthy enough to secure a backup supply of water. Rhett Saayman, 46, lets out a sigh of relief every time it rains and he hears water flow into the tanks he has erected around his house over the last couple of years.
His plan to save money on water in the long run has turned out to be an invaluable investment in securing his household’s water supply.
Saayman has a storage capacity of 18,500 liters. The water for general household use, like bathrooms, runs through a 5-micron particle filter and a carbon block filter, while drinking and cooking water goes through a reverse osmosis filter.
Rhett Saayman standing next to one of his several water tanks at his home in Kamma Heights.

“We do still rely on municipal water from time to time when we haven’t had enough rain, but that might be two or three times a year, and normally only for a few days at a time,” he said. “The last time we used municipal water was in February, and since then we’ve had sufficient rain to sustain us.”
He added, “Looking at the way things are heading around the city it’s definitely a relief to know we have clean drinking water and enough to flush our toilets and take a shower. Our investment is paying off.”
Residents in many parts of the bay area are being asked to reduce their consumption so that water can be run through stand pipes — temporary pipes placed in strategic locations so that water can be diverted areas most in need.
This means some of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, like Kama Heights, could see huge drop in their water supplies, and they too will have to line up at communal taps, just as those in Kwanobuhle are doing.
Looking ahead, local weather authorities have painted a worrying picture of the months to come, with some warning that the problem had been left to fester for so long, reversing it may be impossible.
“We have been warning the city officials about this for years,” said Garth Sampson, spokesperson for the South African Weather Service in Nelson Mandela Bay. “Whether you want to blame politicians and officials for mismanagement, or the public for not conserving water, it does not matter anymore. Pointing fingers will help no one. The bottom line is we are in a crisis and there is very little we can do anymore.”
Water drips out of a tap at a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha, South Africa. It is one of many collection areas set up in the city.

According to Sampson, the catchment areas supplying Nelson Mandela Bay need about 50 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period for there to be any significant impact on the dam levels.
“Looking at the statistics over the last several years, our best chance of seeing 50-millimiter events will probably be in August. If we don’t see any significant rainfall by September, then our next best chance is only around March next year, which is concerning,” he said.

The Jan. 6 committee was tweaking plan for tonight’s hearing up until the last minute, sources say

A large projection screen is seen before Thursday night's hearing.
A large projection screen is seen before Thursday night’s hearing. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The Jan. 6 select committee held final rehearsals for tonight’s prime-time hearing today and sources say members and staff were making final tweaks and adjustments to their plan right up until the last minute.

While the committee had the lion’s share of their plan in place, they were still making final decisions about the order of their presentation, even deciding which videos to share tonight and which to save for later hearings.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee vice chair, are expected to play a starring role, with other members of the committee not contributing much to tonight’s hearing. They instead are being tasked with running separate hearings on later dates.

The hearing will rely heavily on a multimedia presentation to set the stage for what the investigation has uncovered up until this point, and tee up more in depth hearings throughout the month of June.

Surreal pregame scene of Tom Brady as Patriots opponent in New England; fans showed appreciation until kickoff

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady returned to Gillette Stadium and was greeted with a steady rain, a standing ovation and cheers of “Bray-DEE! Bray-DEE!”

Brady, who delivered six Super Bowls titles and countless memories to the New England Patriots and their fans across 20 years here, was subdued as he took the field at 8:10 p.m. ET. He jogged out of the visitor’s tunnel and led his Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their sideline.

This may have been his house for a long time,brooks shoes but on Sunday he seemed content in being a visitor on a business trip — even as he jogged toward an end zone and gave a fist pump to the crowd.

Brady was briefly booed by some fans when he took the field for his first series, at that point becoming the enemy trying to beat the Pats.

There was no obvious pregame interaction between Brady and his former coach, Bill Belichick. Nor with the man who is trying to replace him in New England, rookie Mac Jones.

The scene was still surreal; the home crowd wearing the jersey of the visiting quarterback, rows and rows of old Tom Brady 12 jerseys, pulled out of closets and drawers for one last run on Sunday night.

It was the same throughout the parking lots surrounding Gillette, where fans stood around sipping beers and grilling food while talking about Brady.

(Yahoo Sports)
Patriots fans were in a reflective mood on Tom Brady’s return to Foxborough on Sunday.

“Once he runs out, it’s going to be loud and pretty epic,” predicted Bill Gately, clarks shoes uk a season-ticket holder from Burrillville, Rhode Island. “But once the game starts, we are all-Mac, all-Pats. That’s it. That’s how it goes. This is Patriots Nation.”

“I am a Tom Brady fan, but I am a Patriots fan,” said his brother, Joe, who wore a sweatshirt with a series of Bill Belichick headshots on it. “Notice his emotions. They are all the same.”

Foxborough, MA - October 3: Fans cheer Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) as he leaves the field following during pre game warmups. The New England Patriots host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a regular season NFL game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021. (Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Fans cheer Bucs quarterback Tom Brady as he leaves the field following pregame warmups. 

About the only pregame discontent was when the Buccaneers gathered briefly on top of the Patriots midfield logo, drawing boos from the crowd. As transgressions go, it wasn’t much. Few patriots players were on the field to see it.

But for a hyped crowd that was standing in the rain, it was something to react and pass the time.

If there was ever a time to reminisce about the epic games and playoff triumphs Brady helped produce, it was a night he returned with his new team.

They wore his jersey — in Patriots red, hey dude shoes white and blue (and even a few No. 10s from the University of Michigan). One woman had a homemade T-shirt that read: “I miss Tom.” Others had banners and flags that pledged their allegiance to TB12 … at least until kickoff.

As for who is to blame for the breakup, opinions varied out here. Most saw it as an inevitable conclusion because Belichick didn’t think Brady would still be playing at such a high level at age 44. Almost all agreed Brady found himself in a better place.

If there is one thing Patriots fans know, it is what a Super Bowl-caliber roster looks like, and what has been taking the field here the past two seasons isn’t it. Getting on with the Mac Jones era, even if the record stands at 1-2, provides comfort.

Besides, almost everyone rooted for Tampa Bay last season and wanted Brady to win a seventh Super Bowl. There was no bitterness, no jealousy. Everyone seemed happy for him.

That includes Bob Nichol of Wrentham, Massachusetts, who said he was offered $20,000 last summer for his four prime, 100-level seats at the 40-yard line. He turned it down. His first year as a season-ticket holder was 2001, in the old Foxboro Stadium. The second game of that season he watched New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis crush starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, sending Bledsoe to the hospital.

“And just like everyone else, I was like, ‘The Patriots are in for it. Who is this guy Tom Brady?’” Nichol said. “So I said no to the 20 grand. This could be the last time Brady plays here. So I have been here for the first game and the last game, and they could have offered me twice that money and I would have said no.”

The memories were too great to make this anything but a positive. They know they’ve been spoiled and they know who helped spoil them.

Tom Brady, the greatest New England Patriot of all time, was no longer their quarterback. It didn’t mean they still didn’t love him. At least for now.

You Absolutely Shouldn’t Wait Until 70 to Claim Social Security in This Situation

You Absolutely Shouldn’t Wait Until 70 to Claim Social Security in This Situation

Most people know that Social Security checks increase if you delay claiming them.

While you become eligible for retirement benefits as early as age 62, waiting until at least your full retirement age (FRA) grows your benefit because you avoid early filing penalties. And waiting even longer to get started until after FRA will also increase the size of your monthly checks until age 70 due to delayed retirement credits you can earn.

Because of these rules, retirees hoping for the largest monthly benefit should wait until age 70 to claim it — in most cases. But there is an important exception to this rule, and you need to know what it is so you don’t leave money on the table.

Retirees shouldn’t wait until 70 to claim Social Security benefits in this situation

If you are claiming spousal benefits, rather than claiming Social Security on your own work record, there is absolutely no reason to delay the start of your checks until 70 if you are eligible for them earlier.

That’s because you are not able to earn delayed retirement credits for spousal benefits under any circumstances.

Spousal benefits are based on your spouse’s work history. You’re entitled to them if you’re married, or if you are divorced after a marriage that lasted at least 10 years. They can be an invaluable source of income if you didn’t earn enough work credits to qualify for benefits on your own, or if your earnings were very low and your own benefit isn’t worth very much.

Your spousal benefit can equal up to half of the amount of your husband or wife’s benefit at their full retirement age. If you claim your spousal benefit before your full retirement age, you’ll shrink the amount and get less. But once you’ve reached your FRA, there is no reason to delay beyond that until 70 before starting your benefits, since you won’t get a monthly income boost for doing so.

Of course, you need to be eligible for spousal benefits at your full retirement age in order to claim them then. If you’re still married, this eligibility hinges not just on your marital status but also on your spouse having claimed his or her own retirement benefits already. This rule doesn’t apply to those who are divorced, though. Divorced individuals can claim their spousal benefits on their own schedule regardless of what their ex does.

If you’re still married and your partner hasn’t yet started getting Social Security retirement checks, you’ll need to wait for them to do so before you can get your monthly spousal benefit — even if you’ve already reached your own full retirement age. Unfortunately, if this means you end up having to wait beyond your FRA, you still won’t see your monthly checks go up due to the delay.

The bottom line is, if you are married and claiming spousal benefits, then as soon as you hit full retirement age, it’s time for you to claim your monthly Social Security money if you can. Otherwise, you’re needlessly missing out on income you’re owed with no benefit to you later.