Bredell urges cautious approach to Western Cape water shortage

2017-02-16 20:03
MEC Anton Bredell spoke at the Cape Town press club on water supply and thanked the group for standing up for environment. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

MEC Anton Bredell spoke at the Cape Town press club on water supply and thanked the group for standing up for environment. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – The future of the Western Cape’s water supply was the subject of heated debate on Thursday, after protesters against desalination addressed local government MEC Anton Bredell.

The group of around 20 people told Bredell that Cape Town should rather invest in harvesting water from the Cape Flats aquifer and off Table Mountain.

Representing the Philippi Horticultural Area, farmer Nazeer Sonday said Bredell was supporting developers to pave over their area, which would destroy the aquifer.

“Here we have an area that is producing 200 000 tons of vegetables for the city and you are basically deleting the area,” Sonday said during a Cape Town Press Club talk by Bredell.

The group carried signboards stating, "De Lille, Bredel [sic] kak dof oor climate change" and "Save Cape Town's food basket before we all starve!"

The MEC thanked the group for being there and said more people needed to stand up for the environment.

Extreme events like the drought were not going to disappear, but increasingly threaten food security and economic growth, he said.

Around two million more people were expected to be added to the province’s population in the next 20 years.

“Studies already indicate that the demand for water in the province will exceed the current supply by 2019.”

Options for increasing water supply over the medium to long-term included fast-tracking the development of the Table Mountain group aquifer, waste water treatment on a macro scale, and seawater desalination.

‘We are behind’

“There is no single one person who has the sole mandate on what is right or wrong. We need to get as much knowledge as possible.”

He said the Table Mountain aquifer was sensitive.

“People must realise we can’t make a mistake on this. If too much water goes out, sea water will push in. We will lose all the land.”

He said desalination should be one of the last options due to cost and environmental considerations.

Building a 450 megalitre per day desalination plant could cost around R15bn excluding VAT, and the operating costs were extremely high.

On the Philippi matter, he welcomed debate and offered to set up a meeting with Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

Bredell said they could not have an either/or conundrum where it was “the environment or development, the environment or mining.”

Development should be balanced with protecting the environment.

“Our one biggest challenge is to look at how we are going to give a dignified life to two million extra people. We are behind, we play catch up,” he admitted.

It had to be done in a civil way, not in a heavy-handed manner.

“We are allowed to differ on these crucial items.”

Read more on:    anton bredell  |  cape town  |  environment  |  water

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