Cape Town’s ‘wa­ter economy’ booms

4 But as prices of re­lated goods sky-rocket and Day Zero draws near, tem­pers fray

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - YAZEED KAMALDIEN

CAPE Town’s wa­ter economy is boom­ing, with on­line searches for the pre­cious re­source and re­lated goods rock­et­ing by 557% in the past month.

This is ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics from on­line shop­ping price com­par­i­son web­site, PriceCheck.

The site ag­gre­gates avail­able prod­ucts listed on­line to source the best prod­uct price and lo­ca­tion for con­sumers.

In re­cent months, wa­ter and wa­ter-re­lated prod­ucts such as stor­age tanks, sani­tis­ers, plas­tic buck­ets and wa­ter pumps have been sought en masse.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive at PriceCheck Kevin Tucker said sta­tis­tics from their web­site show a mas­sive jump in searches for wa­ter- re­lated prod­ucts.

“A num­ber of re­tail­ers are pro­mot­ing things like bot­tled wa­ter spe­cials. We’ve seen the search for bot­tled wa­ter in­crease by 577% in the past month, which in­di­cated a bit of panic buy­ing,” said Tucker.

“The price in­creases we’ve seen aren’t nec­es­sar­ily at

“This of­fer

re­serves.

Chief op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer of Sun In­ter­na­tional Rob Collins, which runs to­day’s event at Ke­nil­worth Race­course, said they have pro­vided 60 000 litres of wa­ter to “ser­vice guests and race­go­ers”.

“Fur­ther­more, a plan will be made and put into ac­tion to en­sure that any sur­plus wa­ter fol­low­ing the Sun Met event is put to use to help al­le­vi­ate the Cape Town wa­ter cri­sis,” said Collins.

The Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre (CTICC), a land­mark con­fer­ence and events venue in the city, launched its new R900 mil­lion ex­pan­sion this week.

Both city mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille and pro­vin­cial pre­mier He­len Zille, who are fac­ing a back­lash for not act­ing sooner to avert the wa­ter cri­sis, were at the open­ing cer­e­mony on Thurs­day night.

The cen­tre’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie-May Elling­son said since their first build­ing opened in 2003, they have hosted nearly 7 000 events.

Elling­son could not avoid ques­tions about the cen­tre’s im­pact on Cape Town’s wa­ter cri­sis. She told the gath­er­ing they had al­ready “im­ple­mented sev­eral wa­ter sav­ings mea­sures to re­duce the cen­tre’s wa­ter con­sump­tion”.

“Most of our wa­ter sav­ings ini­tia­tives take place be­hind the scenes and are part of our fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment op­er­a­tions,” she said.

“The CTICC has been run­ning wa­ter con­ser­va­tion ini­tia­tives for sev­eral years. By the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year, the cen­tre had al­ready been us­ing 10 mil­lion litres less wa­ter than it did five years ear­lier.

“As the drought in­ten­si­fied, the cen­tre also in­stalled stor­age tanks to cap­ture rain wa­ter and in­creased the grey wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­ity. Ad­di­tional aug­men­ta­tion sys­tems are un­der con­sid­er­a­tion but the fo­cus re­mains on min­imis­ing wa­ter us­age wher­ever pos­si­ble.”

How­ever, not all busi­nesses have found favour with lo­cals.

This week, New­lands-based South African Brew­eries (SAB) faced crit­i­cism.

The re­cently- es­tab­lished Cape Town Wa­ter Cri­sis Coali­tion crit­i­cised the com­pany for its lack of as­sis­tance re­gard­ing the wa­ter cri­sis af­ter it of­fered to bot­tle a mil­lion cases of wa­ter bot­tles, to­talling nine mil­lion litres, if Day Zero ar­rives.

The coali­tion, which has at least 64 or­gan­i­sa­tional af­fil­i­ates, de­scribed the com­pany’s as­sis­tance as pal­try.

Its state­ment said that “your min­i­mal­ist of­fer of hand­ing out bot­tled wa­ter to the masses on Day Zero was highly in­sult­ing when you re­ceive mil­lions of litres of our spring wa­ter for free, ev­ery day”.

The coali­tion was re­fer­ring to the con­tentious mat­ter of the nat­u­ral spring from which the com­pany draws wa­ter for its prod­ucts.

“Is this all that one of the world’s largest bev­er­age com­pa­nies can give?

“This of­fer of yours is to dis­tract us from the fact that you are con­tin­u­ing to profit from free spring wa­ter.”John Stenslunde, SAB New­lands Brew­ery plant man­ager, said the New­lands Spring sit­u­ated on its prop­erty would re­main open to the pub­lic.

“New­lands will fur­ther re­duce its de­pen­dency on the mu­nic­i­pal wa­ter grid, us­ing only spring and bore­hole wa­ter. This will free up ap­prox­i­mately 1.7-mil­lion ad­di­tional litres of wa­ter per month to the City of Cape Town.”

PICTURES: HENK KRUGER/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

The New­lands Spring has seen an in­crease of peo­ple ar­riv­ing with plas­tic con­tain­ers to col­lect nat­u­ral spring wa­ter. Long queues of peo­ple wait their turn to fill up their con­tain­ers with spring wa­ter.

PIC­TURE: BRUCE SUTHER­LAND

A bar­ren Thee­wa­ter­skloof Dam.

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