Rainwater Tanks better option than Berg River Dam

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 14June 2010

Berg River Dam

Distributing free rainwater tanks to the city’s wealthier residents in Cape Town would have made more sense than building the Berg River Dam, according to a new study.

The study, commissioned by the city’s Department of Economic Development, recommends that the city subsidises water tanks and solar-powered geysers for low-income households.

Titled “Economic imperatives of environmental sustainability”, it was compiled by an intern, masters student Ross Harvey.

The report says: “It would have been less expensive for the City of Cape Town to provide rainwater tanks for its most-affluent residents (who are by far the biggest consumers of fresh water) than to build the Berg River Dam.

“Given that the Berg River Dam project will provide only temporary relief from Cape Town’s water-supply shortage, this option should still be carefully considered.”

Solar power ’should be mandatory’

Tanks will relieve pressure on the municipality to provide water in the face of increasing demand, says the study.

They could be used as part of an advanced system of water efficiency, using grey water for gardens and toilets.

The Berg River Dam, completed last year, is the biggest component of the R1.5bn Berg water project near Franschhoek, and can hold 130 million cubic metres of water.

The project, a partnership between the Department of Water Affairs, the city and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, was designed to increase Cape Town’s water supply by just under a fifth.

The study recommends that all renovated and new buildings in the city be fitted with energy-efficient lighting, solar water heaters and rainwater tanks.

“This should be built into policy governing residential and commercial building applications.”

The city’s mayoral committee member for economic development, Simon Grindrod, said a city energy committee, to be established on Thursday, was expected to investigate this recommendation.

He said the national government should urgently pass legislation which would make compulsory the installation of solar-powered geysers in every new development.

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