Blue Scorpions say Constantia water-selling man just emptying his tanks

2019-05-30 05:33


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Constantia residents were astonished to see trucks filling up with mountain water from the property of Paul Baise after the Department of Water and Sanitation's Blue Scorpions had issued him with a directive in April to stop selling this water.

Baise’s neighbour Kevin McGivern said he had seen water trucks come to be filled at least twice since the Blue Scorpions’ directive had been issued.

"There may be more, I am not monitoring it. It was just co-incidental that I saw the trucks," McGivern said on Tuesday.

But Water Affairs and Sanitation said they know about Baise’s "release of water" and he was complying with their instructions.

Tank issue

Asked to comment, Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau forwarded an e-mail to News24 from DWS law enforcement staff that said when they had met Baise on his property in April, he had told them that there was still mountain water stored in the tanks.

The owner of the tanks wanted them back.

"We told him that he should release it to the owner of the tanks as the owner needed the tanks back empty. Mr Baise has been complying with our instructions to release the water to the tanks' owner….We are still going to follow up because this process should be coming to an end," the DWS statement said.

Baise told them the three tanks held 16 500 litres altogether.

The Blue Scorpions shut down Baise’s water-selling operation in April. Much of the water was being sold to a company that fills swimming pools.

Selling water without a licence contravenes the Water Act.

On April 24, advocate Abraar Mowzer from Water and Sanitation wrote to Baise to ask how the process of emptying the tanks was going.

Baise replied that only 2 000 litres had been taken off, so there was "about 14 000 litres left".

He said the trucks were fetching water "very erratically and in small amounts as winter is coming". The water tanks should be emptied "within a few weeks".

Household use

However, his neighbour McGivern said he could not understand why Water and Sanitation did not monitor the amount of water being collected from the tanks.

McGivern shares a driveway with Baise and another neighbour. The three 5.5000 litre tanks in which Baise stores the water from a nearby mountain stream are at the entrance of the driveway.

McGivern said he and Baise were allowed to draw water from the mountain stream behind their Rhodes Drive, Constantia properties through "a half inch pipe" for household use only.

"Who is checking? There is nothing more I can do if law enforcement can't get its act together," McGivern said.

When Baise spoke to News24 on Tuesday, he said he did not know how much water was left in the tanks, but said it was about 12 000 to 14 000 litres.

He said he had another 9 000 litres stored elsewhere on the property.

Asked how long it would take for all the tanks to be emptied and removed, Baise said he did not know.

"They’re collecting it in dribs and drabs."

Court cases

The local community had been up in arms about Baise selling the water from the mountain stream, particularly in 2018 at the height of the drought when tough water restrictions were in force.

At least two court cases have arisen from this matter. 

The point at which Baise and McGivern collect the mountain water – meant for household use only – is on SANParks land, part of the Table Mountain National Park.

SANParks has applied to the Western Cape High Court for an interdict against Baise, and Baise has launched legal proceedings against SANParks for cutting his pipes running from the stream.

Baise maintains SANParks has no jurisdiction in the matter as surface water is managed by the national Department of Water and Sanitation.

Read more on:    cape town  |  water

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