Image of the Week - Theewaterskloof Reservoir, South Africa

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The Theewaterskloof Reservoir near Cape Town, South Africa is drying up as a result of a growing population and several dry years. Now at 13% capacity, the shortage could reach a crisis if the rainy season doesn't replenish water supplies.

At the USGS EROS Center, we study land change, operate the Landsat satellites, and maintain the longest, continuously acquired collection of images of the Earth's land surface.

USGS EROS Center (


Date Taken:

Length: 00:01:00

Location Taken: ZA


A three-year drought and
growing population are

threatening to cause city
officials in Cape Town,

South Africa, to shut
off the tap water. 

The view from Landsat 8
brings the crisis into

focus. The January 2014
image shows their largest

reservoir at full capacity.
By January 2018, three

years of drought have
brought the reservoir’s

water capacity at
just 13 percent. 

Drought conditions started
in 2015 when Cape Town

received about half of its
normal annual rainfall.

2016 provided even less
rain, and by 2017

Cape Town's annual rainfal
 was down to about

one third of its annual

Even with water
use restrictions,

the city could run out
of water by mid-April. 

If the rainy season,
from April to September,

brings adequate rainfall,
then Landsat can help

monitor the extent of
the reservoir

as it begins to refill.