GWUA chairman, Stuart Maxwell explains: “Negotiations began late in October when a blanket 30% reduction of water used for agriculture by 60/70% was being mooted. A working group of growers in our valley sketched out how our valley was different. Not only were we a major employer in the area with tens of thousands of people reliant on us for their livelihoods and responsible for supplying food on South African tables and export revenue but also our growers had the foresight 40 years ago to build their own dams and water reservoirs.
Importantly, our valley has also been blessed with more rain. When we demonstrated that our growers with just a 10% cut in water usage could maintain output and jobs and would still be able to deliver 40 million cubic meters over a year into the city’s supply they accepted our proposal but said they needed 10 million cubic meters of water in February to which we agreed.”
He said that the Steenbras dam into which the water will eventually be pumped needs to remain at high capacity as this is used to generate hydroelectricity and also the high volume helps maintain the water pressure that the city requires.
“What is so sad for us is that our neighbours and friends in Villiersdorp and those reliant on Theewaterskloof Dam, very nearby as the crow flies, are in dire need of water so again I stress how blessed we are to be able to share our supply mainly because of higher rainfall and forward planning.”
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s managing director, Roelf Pienaar says that it is heartening to know that just as Tru-Cape growers in Ceres contributed animal feed to assist the drought-stricken Karoo farmers so too have Tru-Cape growers in the Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp valleys shared their resources with the City of Cape Town during this water crisis. “Their voluntary water donation is largely from private apple and pear growers in the area and we hope this will assist in avoiding or significantly delaying Day Zero when City taps run dry.”