'Would you like some water?' asked the driver of the car taking me to my hotel in Capetown. 'Yes please' I replied.
I was given a small 25cl bottle which is half the size of the standard small bottle available here in the UK.
'So what's the water situation like here? I asked. What followed was fascinating. The South African government's communication plan has worked so well that Day Zero has moved from April to June and may even never come. Water is now treated like the precious resource that it is.
'Everyone' said my driver ' knows that you don't have to leave the shower running when you soap yourself, so you turn it off. Same for to brushing teeth. You know that drinking water I gave you? At the end of the day we collect all the half empty bottles and we pour them in a bucket and use them to clean the wheels of the car. I can easily keep the water I use to under 50 litres and stay clean. I don't think we will ever go back to wasting water like we used to. We really understand how important it is to us.'
Some residents have even slashed their usage to 15 litres per day and reducing water consumption is now an obsession with many saying that they can't imagine being easy with watching water run down the plughole anymore.
Many years ago I worked for an energy company and I remember the CEO saying that wars are more likely to be fought over water than fuel.
Even though we are rain rich in this country the consumption of water increases every year. The average household uses 150 litres of water per day. That's three times the Capetown allowance. One day we too could be facing a water shortage. When that day comes we would do well to copy the South Africans attitude to the 'shape of water',
Residents have been living off a daily allowance of just 50 liters (a little over 13 gallons) a day. Anxious Capetonians have been stockpiling water and installing tanks. For many, the day now starts standing in line at a natural spring to collect water for the family. They don't need to wait for the taps to run dry as the reality of life without water is already here. The province's premier has likened the situation to 9/11 -- a disaster officials want to avoid at all costs.