The issue of water scarcity is a key focus of Responsible Tourism for the Cape Town Big 6 attractions; each has their own #WaterWise measures in place to conserve water in this time of drought.
Cape Point, as part of Table Mountain National Park, has streamlined its operations to create minimal impact on the environment, which includes the careful reuse of grey water for on-site vegetation.
- Cape Point has implemented the careful re-use of grey water for on-site vegetation.
- Notices have been put up requesting visitors to use water sparingly due to the water restrictions.
- Hand sanitizers are available in the ablution facilities in lieu of washing hands to limit water use.
- Cape Point is not watering any site gardens due to the restrictions.
- In the Cape Point area certain species of plants are endemic and therefore it is essential vegetation is watered sufficiently.
- Cape Point Main Ablution facilities uses grey water. (SANParks)
Groot Constantia Wine Estate
As a member of the Biodiversity in Wine Initiative, Groot Constantia Wine Estate is committed to protecting its remaining highly threatened natural areas and adopting better farming practices to ensure functioning, healthy natural systems. Although the area of natural habitat under the estate’s control is very small, Groot Constantia acknowledges the fact that the farm’s vineyards and river streams are a valuable habitat to different creatures that are living in the Table Mountain National Park. Every effort is made not to disturb this habitat and to allow it to play a role as an important buffer zone for the Table Mountain National Park. Links, porcupine and fish eagle sightings on the Estate, to name but a few, are proof that this role is successfully fulfilled.
- Notices have been put up requesting visitors to use water sparingly due to the water restrictions.
- Hand sanitizers and wetwipes are available in the Jonkershuis Restaurant in lieu of washing hands to limit water use.
- Water thirsty alien vegetation like Black Wattle and Port Jackson trees have been cleared from the estate.
- Although Groot Constantia does irrigate, this season 60% of the vineyards have not required any irrigation.
- The vines are traditionally irrigated for 12 hours during the veraison period which is when the berries ripen and change colour, this has been reduced to 6 hours.
- Did you know that 1 ton of grapes yields 630 litres of grape juice, and it takes 13.4 litres of water to produce 1 litre of wine? Boela Gerber and his assistant, Rudolf Steenkamp, reduced this amount to 8 litres and recently have managed to use just 6.4 litres of water per 1 litre of wine.
Dongola Guest House – going above and beyond #WaterWise
In an effort to relieve some pressure on this precious resource, Dongala Guest House in Constantia sealed the Baths in the rooms with Baths and Showers. They realise this may be inconvenient to their guests but they were rewarded with a free wine tasting at Groot Constantia!
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The #WaterWise Garden at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden demonstrates how to create a garden that is lush and colourful throughout the year, but which requires less water than the average garden. Important water-wise principles are explained, such as soil preparation, mulching, making windbreaks, creating shade, lawn care and grouping of plants according to their water needs. The plants are labeled with short descriptive notes as well as tips on identifying water-wise plant characteristics: underground bulbs, small hairy or grey leaves, succulent roots, stems or leaves, and more. The water at Kirstenbosch is not supplied by the City of Cape Town.
- Non-potable Water is used for Irrigation
The Garden is irrigated by non-potable water from a 110 megalitre dam situated on the mountain slopes to the south of the Garden. Water comes from surface runoff and streams in Window Gorge and Nursery Ravine. Most water is collected during the winter rainy season.
- Drinking water from the Table Mountain Aquifer
All drinking water at Kirstenbosch is extracted from boreholes on the Estate that tap into the Table Mountain Aquifer, 60 meters below ground level. The water is stored in reservoirs where it is sanitized with Ozone to control randomly occurring biological activity. No Chlorine or other chemicals are used. This water is of such high quality that it is good enough to be bottled. Drinking water is supplied to all bathroom taps and to numerous water fountains throughout the Garden.
- Irrigating the Garden is timed
The irrigation system is run by computer and garden sections are automatically irrigated after 16:00 and before 09:00. Occasionally, such as when dealing with dry spots or new plantings, some supplementary watering may be done in the day.
- Water saving devices installed at Kirstenbosch
Although the Kirstenbosch dam was full at the start of the summer dry season, their water supply is limited and it is always a challenge to make the water last through the summer. Staff are trained to conserve water and use it wisely, at all times. During exceptionally dry years, additional water-saving measures, such as reducing the amount of time that the sprinklers run, are implemented. Also, numerous potable water-saving devices, such as waterless urinals, multi-flush toiles and low flow shower heads, are used at Kirstenbosch.
Table Mountain Cableway
The Table Mountain Cableway focuses on the three pillars of responsible tourism – environmental, social and economic responsibility – to maximize benefits and minimize costs.
They have reduced their water consumption by more than 5% per visitor since 2014 – which is enough to fill 32 cable cars!
Here are some of their great water wise initiatives:
- Installed recycling toilets, which use less water, and waterless urinals
- All toilets are fitted with a dual-flush mechanism
- There are sensor-operated and push-button taps throughout our ablution facilities
- Reduced the amount of grey water generated by a massive 1-million litres, by moving the production kitchen to the Lower Cable Station and using compostable cups, lids, cutlery and straws in our food and beverage facilities
- Transport waste water and sewage to the Lower Cable Station, using our cable cars
- Meters have been installed to monitor their water usage.
- They also use melted ice from ice-buckets used during the day to wash the floors in the Table Mountain Café.
- Compostable cups, lids, and cutlery are used in the eateries to reduce washing.
- The Café kitchen uses a hot element instead of a bain-marie to heat food and more.
- Taps switched off: The hand basin taps have been switched off in the visitor and staff restrooms at the Lower Station and they now offer waterless hand sanitizers. Additionally, unnecessary taps have been either removed or locked to discourage use and wastage.
- Misting system free: In the current peak season, they have not been providing their usual misting system in the queues.
Future #WaterWise plans:
- Alternative water sources are being investigated and only non-potable water will be used for toilet flushing, and possibly floor washing (where possible).
- Holding tanks for rainwater storage will be installed.
- Portable loos, which use recycled water will be installed at the Lower Station.
Robben Island is a complex, sensitive eco-system and as such is protected by South African Law as a nature conservation area.
In addition to this, it is designated a World Heritage Site and has to balance additional stringent conservation requirements in line with Robben Island Museum’s mission of ensuring public access to the Island. The Island’s complex and sensitive ecosystem includes Birdlife, Natural Vegetation, Marine and Wildlife, Geology and Cultural Conservation sites.
At the Robben Island Museum Gateway, they work very closely with V&A Management to join their water-saving initiatives, as well as make all visitors aware of the drought situation.
No municipal water is used on the island as they have their own desalination plant.
In 2008, the V&A Waterfront water saving initiatives were introduced which include water-efficient toilets and urinals, water sensor taps in all bathrooms, drip irrigation and variable irrigation times. A waste minimisation drive has nearly halved the amount of waste going to landfills and tenants were incentivised to reduce waste at source by introducing new waste tariff structures.
Visitors to the V&A are also encouraged to participate in its green conscious ethics. Recycling bins have been located throughout the property and in order to encourage visitors to be “car-free”; bicycle lanes have been introduced. The V&A Waterfront Operations Team have also reduced vehicle patrols by increasing bicycle patrols instead.
The Waterfront is committed to applying best practices in Environmental Management and has set the following objectives, which you can read up on here.
- Installing water meters in all tenant premises;
- A move to drip irrigation;
- Use of borehole and grey water for toilets, cleaning and irrigation; and
- Proactive pressure management and aggressive leak detection.
- Reducing water pressure throughout the property;
- We are in the process of currently cutting water to all taps, bar one, in each of our public bathrooms, and replacing with hand sanitisers;
- All operational taps have had their sensor timings adjusted to a minimum and each tap installed with aerating water restrictor;
- A grey water system was installed in the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre in November 2017, whereby the air conditioning cooling tower bleed-off is collected and used to flush toilets;
- All of the air conditioning plants at Silo District buildings make use of seawater cooling (instead of air conditioning) and the Clock Tower buildings were connected to seawater cooling at the end of last year.
- The new development at Waterway House relies solely on air-cooled chillers negating the need for any potable water use.
- The use of filtered sea water for the scrubbing of very dusty areas (e.g. new parking garages).
What can you do?
Share your #WaterWise tips with us!
One Destination, 6 Unbelievable Experiences
There is no one way to explore all of the Cape Town Big 6, and much of what makes each of them so special is the variety of things to see and do at each. So if possible, take your time to explore each of the city’s most visited tourist attractions in as much depth as possible – as any local will tell you, you can spend a lifetime at each of the Big 6 and still not tire of them. Find the 3 and 4 day itineraries and tips here.