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The City’s Recreation and Parks Department is spending more than R3 million in a bid to secure alternative water sources for some of its sports fields and parks. The interventions include the installation of boreholes, well-points and storage tanks and the initiative forms part of the Recreation and Parks Department’s efforts to build resilience amid the persistent drought. Read more below:

Recreational facilities have gone from green to brown amid the persistent drought and resultant water restrictions. Currently, in terms of Level 6B restrictions, no irrigation is permissible using drinking water and even irrigation using alternative water sources like boreholes and well-points is limited to an hour on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

As a result, many of the City’s 610 sports fields have been rendered unusable and access has been restricted to prevent irreversible damage.

‘We have had to advise many sporting codes to curtail their activities because many of our fields would simply not be able to handle the wear and tear of regular use without proper irrigation. We can also not say with any level of certainty what winter will be like and whether the rainfall will be significant enough to help rehabilitate fields and parks, and also to fill the dams to the point where water restrictions can be revised to allow for more regular irrigation come summer,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, Alderman JP Smith.

In a bid to make facilities more resilient in future and less reliant on rainfall, the City’s Social Services Directorate has secured a tender for the installation of boreholes at priority community facilities – Recreation and Parks has some 23 facilities on that list that should have access to boreholes or be linked to treated effluent supply lines before the end of the current financial year or early in the new financial year.

Priority facilities on the list include:

Sports fields: Turfhall, Mamre, Malibu, William Herbert, Rooikrans, PP Smit, Sarepta, Jan Burger, Green Point Track, Rocklands JQ, 14th Avenue, Sir Lowry’s Pass, Uitsig, Allenby Drive, Royal Road, Khayelitsha cricket oval, Erica Park

Stadiums: Gugulethu, Khayelitsha

Parks: Jack Muller, Erica Park, Westridge Gardens, Wallflower

Other measures that have been or will be implemented include water storage tanks and further investment in alternative playing surfaces like synthetic pitches. Currently, construction is under way on two of three synthetic pitches in Ocean View and Gugulethu that were budgeted for in the current financial year.

‘The Seawinds synthetic pitch project is hanging in the balance because the contractor is unable to get onto the site amid threats of disruption related to the unrest in nearby Vrygrond. We have budgeted R8 million for this project and, as we are in a race against time with the end of the financial year looming, we’ll more than likely have to redirect this money. This is an example of the far-reaching impact of protest action – a community in need of quality recreational facilities having to wait possibly another year, if not longer, for the rollout of such facilities,’ added Alderman Smith.

To date, the City has already invested more than R100 million in 29 synthetic football pitches across the metropole – 19 are full-sized and 10 provide five-a-side facilities.

The Recreation and Parks Department is also working towards converting some municipal swimming pools to saltwater pools, pending Environmental Impact Assessments and budget availability as the conversion is a costly exercise that requires a change to the entire filtration system of a swimming pool to handle the salt water. Priority facilities on the list would include Strand indoor swimming pool, Muizenberg swimming pool, Mnandi swimming pool and Monwabisi swimming pool because of their proximity to the ocean.

‘The City has thousands of recreational and community facilities that have all been impacted by the drought. Sports fields are in the public eye and require a lot of water to be rendered usable, but we have also been working hard to revisit our approach to water use and savings at our resorts and community halls. Finding the budget to institute all of the measures we have identified is the trick, and so we are unable to make changes overnight, but I assure residents that we are doing everything possible to become more resilient and ensure continued service delivery and access to facilities in spite of the challenges brought about by the drought,’ said Alderman Smith.

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