When we turn on a tap, we in the developed world expect an endless stream of clean water to gush out.

Like popping a pill when we have a headache or biting into a strawberry mid-winter, it’s a modern privilege most of us are barely even aware of.

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Certain hospitals and parts of the Central Business District will probably be exempt, including hotels within this perimeter. Can the sewage system continue to function without running water?

If not, will chemical loos be set up on each street?

But South Africans are coming to the daunting realisation that the right to water and sanitation – one of the defining aspects of life in the developed world – is not something to take for granted.

As Cape Town creeps towards “Day Zero” – the moment, currently scheduled for 12 April, when all municipal water is turned off – the sense of growing panic is palpable.

“We absolutely welcome visitors to Cape Town with open arms, but they must be prepared to fully comply with the water restrictions,” says Nina Elvin-Jenson, the owner of local travel company, Cape Concierge.

This includes anyone staying in a flat or villa without access to ground water – although it is the owners rather than the visitors who will be fined for any excess usage.

To put it in perspective, the average Briton uses 200 litres a day.

In Cape Town today, dishwasher and washing machine usage has to be severely curtailed, so we’re eating off paper plates and wearing the same clothes for a few days in a row. In a particularly hot summer, private pools are covered to prevent evaporation, public pools that don’t use sea water are mostly closed, while many gyms have blocked off their showers.

The public thirst for knowledge is understandable, particularly since we have been kept largely in the dark so far.