With talks of water shortages putting people on edge, many have been flocking to the Albion Springs in Newlands to stock up on the fresh water supply to keep them hydrated.
However, plenty of individuals have been hogging the springs by filling several bottles of water at a time, with increasing concerns that some people may be selling the water.
Liz Futeran regularly visits the Albion Springs to collect water, but when she noticed the spring being used by one man with a bakkie-load of empty bottles, she raised the question as to how many litres one is allowed.
She snapped some photos of the man, who became somewhat hostile. Ms Futeran said: “The photos were taken within a second of each other and show the full extent of the bottles this gentleman had come to fill with a queue of others and their respectably sized containers behind him. The size and quantity of his containers strongly suggest an intention to exploit less fortunate folk by selling the water to them.”
She added that she always considered it to be on private SAB Breweries property as a community offering on their part, but when she tried to contact SAB’s number listed in the local directory, it was not working.
“A sign recently appeared on one of the three water outlets stipulating priority for those collecting under five litres. My suggestion would be to limit the other two to a maximum of 50 litres per vehicle, per entry,” Ms Futeran added.
But the recent antics of the man with his bakkie-load of bottles had Ms Futeran fuming: “There is a parking bay right next to the outlet that others avoid as one has to drive through the queue. This gentleman forced everyone out of his way to access it.”
Newlands resident, Fiona Lawson, had similar experience, saying it was “unethical” for people to be taking something that is free to the public and then selling it.
She too had had run-ins with a number of people who had occupied the Albion Springs for hours to fill a bakkie-load of water bottles.
“People can stand and wait all day, these guys will not even open one point to allow the people in the queue to use the facility. This is a free public space that I feel is being abused by certain individuals. We all are going through this water shortage thing together, but you don’t see everybody trying to take advantage of the situation,” Ms Lawson said.
In September last year, Ms Lawson notified the City of Cape Town about the actions of these people and received a response that the City were not able to monitor the Albion Springs as it was open to the public. “Nobody is saying that there should be a cost attached to this spring. What people would like to see is everybody using it systematically and take into consideration that this water is actually for everybody and it’s free. If there are people selling the water, that is so unethical, because the Albion Springs has been beautified for all to use and not for individuals to turn it into a business idea,” Ms Lawson added.
However, it turns out that there is really not much the City can do about the situation unfolding at the collection point, which can be accessed in Letterstedt Road, opposite the Newlands Sun Hotel.
Ward councillor Ian Iversen confirmed that the Albion Springs collection point was located on City-owned land and added that if the water was not collected, it would only run to waste.
“I am surprised with the current drought conditions that more and more people are not lining up to collect free water. It is not illegal (I don’t think) to sell the Newlands spring water and I doubt that ‘less fortunate folk’ will be buying the bottled water, but rather well to do folk,” Mr Iversen said.
He said the collection point was at SA Breweries and catered for those people who intended on collecting large quantities of water and while he understood that some people might be inconsiderate by hogging the water supply, “I am not sure if the people want the City of Cape Town, at the ratepayer’s expense, to monitor this collection point”.