Cape Town - With less than six weeks until the ICF World Canoe Marathon championships in Romania, the Peninsula Canoe Club (PCC) has renewed its calls for the City to reopen the Zandvlei Estuary for sporting and recreational activities.
The vlei has been closed for 11 weeks and the club said training efforts of its athletes who had been selected to represent team South Africa at this year’s marathon from September 30 have been impacted.
Peninsula Canoe Club chairperson Estelle Jacobs said they offered to indemnify the City against any claim made by a member of the club, should one’s health be compromised by the water quality. She said they also requested paddling in the relatively cleaner water of the Marina da Gama, however the unilateral refusal received without any rationale or discussion was disappointing.
“Remarks made by a City official send a very clear message to us that the City does not understand the quality or commitment of Peninsula Canoe Club athletes, nor that these athletes represent their country with honour, producing results at the highest international level.
“Over and above these athletes, we have members wishing to train for inter alia, the Berg River Canoe Marathon and the Fish River Canoe Marathon within the next three months,” she said.
Jacobs said they have attempted to gain an understanding of all the challenges facing the City regarding the compromised water quality of the Zandvlei Estuary and despite... Prof Findlay’s best efforts, they remained in the dark behind the rationale for the decisions on the closure of the system. She said no water quality test results had been openly published or shared despite requests.
Jacobs said the recent water quality challenges in the vlei had also ruined the club’s chances of bidding to host the Canoe World championship.
Western Cape Canoe Union Co-chairperson Robert Hart said there was no transparency from the City and stakeholders were not engaged when the vlei was closed to explain the implications of the closure.
“The City did not explore the middle ground, it was basing all its decisions that are more onerous to the users with the risk of clubs collapsing, ongoing sports and training programmes and the financial viability and social capital investment,” said Hart.
The City said sampling results from last week indicated continued compromised water quality that exceeds thresholds for intermediate contact recreational use.
“Under circumstances where water quality is compromised, the City has a duty to act in the best interests of recreational users and cannot in good faith permit recreational use where it is unsafe. The City’s regulation of the use of the water body for recreational users is based on the South African Water Quality Guidelines for recreational water use,” said the City.
It said it cannot support the use of the water body in its current state by user groups for any intermediate contact recreational activities.