Water wastage

Mansur and Isaac Cloete, Kenilworth

With reference to the letter “Water wastage allowed”, (Tatler, May 18), I beg to differ with the response of Xanthea Limberg, the Mayco member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy.

The message I get from the City is that water wastage is allowed, based on the following facts. CoCT wants to spend R85 million on drilling the so-called Table Mountain Group (TMG) aquifer to only get two million litres of water a day, yet we are forgoing eight million free litres of water a day that’s running out at sea which makes no sense – we must tap into this free-flowing water but the ignorance in CoCT is the problem.

A post by “Moving on Empty” (UCT / ACC): “… Caron von Zeil’s archive research showed that historically there were 36 springs in the City Bowl. She has uncovered 25 springs and four underground rivers. The City of Cape Town has only 13 springs on their records. Parliament is sitting on two springs and a huge underground reservoir…”

In response – Yes, 32 of the 36 springs within the Camissa sub-system (Table Valley Catchment Area) of the Table Mountain Aquifer have been located. Most viable springs have been data captured (including isotopes, etc.) with the exception of those where it has not been possible to gain access, eg Kotze Spring which issues on the premier’s property – Leeuwenhof – the run-off, of which is used to flush the toilets in the Mount Nelson Hotel. That is only one example of our commons being used for private gain. One small 3 200 square metre site of the Camissa sub-system presents 5.9 million litres of water a day (the average monitored during the summer of 2013), that is not used within the municipal supply, nor by the ecosystem. This is only 1% of the Greater Cape Town Metropolitan Area’s current consumption,

But this where the CoCT remains short-sighted as Camissa presents quantum level application for any of the other sub-systems throughout the peninsula; and is a scalable model for decentralised water capture and distribution.

When the last data was captured, the water indicated high levels of E.coli, which could easily be treated in the short-term through reverse osmosis or ultra violet and in the long-term through ecosystem services – at a fraction of the cost of drilling boreholes to obtain less water a day.

The “Moving on Empty” post was subsequently updated and was submitted as part of the public participation process involving the Oranjezicht City Farm development as the site falls within that land parcel. Recommendations were made in this regard that addressed groundwater protection zoning; the significance of this water for use; and an opportunity to use the revenue generated by the municipal sale of the water to reclaim further water conservation areas within the Camissa sub-system, and others throughout the peninsula.

The potential of the groundwater available within the Camissa sub-system, necessitates that it be protected to conserve the resource. This resource is evaluated, not only in terms of securing the water available within the sub-system, but the potential economic impact of the system – in terms of the potential flux value of water throughout the hydrological system, which would potentially finance securing the ecological system as an authentic cultural landscape – given the importance of this water and the history as a cultural heritage component of our city; and therefore, enjoy tremendous economic impact from tourism.

The City of Cape Town initiated a process to formulate eight district Spatial Development Frameworks (SDFs) – one for each of the City’s planning districts. The purpose of the district plans was to provide medium -term guidance to the spatial development of each of the eight planning districts, in order to facilitate sound infrastructure investment and consideration of development applications.

It was the intention that the plans would be approved as structure plans under the Land Use Planning Ordinance (LUPO), 2014 and provide spatial direction and guidance to the City’s Integrated Development Plan.

Camissa, as well as any other city-wide planning with respect to water, should feature prominently in the Spatial Frameworks, District Planning and Integrated Development Planning exercises that drive urban renewal and public investment. Ideally the City’s SDFs should be structured by water and associated land systems. The district planning should ideally have the water systems as foundational layers for land planning in general and for restructuring of existing spatial systems.

The district plans are still under way and no specific proposals have been made to date that truly address sustainability or resilience; and the issues of environment and ecology, thus leaving an opportunity for water as a fundamental planning informant.

Reclaim Camissa water needs all the assistance and private funding it can get at this time of crisis, to put forward solutions; and most importantly this paradigm shift in requires the collaboration with the CoCT for a lease on the land and a water licence to use the site as a pilot project for proof of concept – something we haven’t done yet we claim and boast some of the fundis and best of minds in these parts of the country.

My conclusion is that we have more than enough water and we are using it for the wrong purposes due to a culture which promotes water wastage as demonstrated by our own municipality.

This letter has been shortened.

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