The desiccating effects of the drought and Level-3 water restrictions seemed a world away from Strand Street early on Monday morning as a man hosed down the pavement in front of the South African Local Government (SALGA) offices.
When CapeTowner confronted him, shortly before 6.30am, he said he used the hosepipe to clear sand and litter from the pavement every Monday. The hosepipe was connected to a tap against the wall of a service passage, which is behind a door that leads off from the pavement.
CapeTowner phoned the building manager, Neil Möller, of Growthpoint Properties, the company that owns the building, and asked him whether he knew about the pavement being hosed down. “I’m not aware of it,” he replied.
He said the cleaning staff were supposed to wash down the area with buckets “just to sanitise a little bit” because there was usually a strong smell of urine near the building’s entrance after a weekend.
Using hosepipes to wash down the pavement was against Growthpoint’s “rules and policies”, he said, promising to address the matter with their cleaning contractor.
“We know what the position is with the water. We are a responsible landlord company, and we would never allow something like this. It is really concerning and not something we would tolerate.”
Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said hosing down paved surfaces with potable water for health reasons was allowed, but those doing so needed to apply for an exemption. She said the City would investigate this case and take “corrective measures if necessary”.
“The City would rather that non-potable water, like the City uses for street cleaning, be used for these purposes,” she said.
Mr Möller said he knew Growthpoint could apply for an exemption to hose down pavements, but they hadn’t done so, precisely because they wanted to save water. Monday’s incident, he said, had been an oversight on the part of their contracted cleaner and, after first being alerted to the incident by CapeTowner, he had contacted the cleaning company to stress that no hosepipes should be used. He had also removed the hosepipes on the premises.
Salga is a tenant in the building and Theresa Adendorff, finance and administration manager at Salga’s Strand Street office, said the association’s two cleaning staff both worked in the office on the seventh floor. “It’s definitely not one of our staff,” she said.
The city council is set to toughen water restrictions this week, taking them a notch up from Level 3 to Level 3B. They will come into effect from the beginning of next month, if approved at a special sitting today, Thursday January 26.
The move comes as dam levels, now at 40 percent, continue to drop and city residents fail to meet water-saving targets.