The Newlands Spring has seen an increase of people arriving with plastic containers to collect natural spring water. Long queues of people wait their turn to fill up their containers with spring water. Pictures: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town says it will implement new rules for the Newlands Spring with the spring set to be rerouted next month due to congestion and bad behaviour.

Due to Cape Town's water crisis and with Day Zero looming, the Newlands Spring has seen an increase of people arriving with plastic containers to collect natural spring water and the collection point has had to contend with a great deal of congestion.

"Unfortunately, due to the number of residents wanting to access the site to collect water, it has made it more difficult for people trying to access the spring.

"Earlier this week, a physical conflict broke out and a person was arrested by SAPS," said Mayco Member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.

"The surrounding neighbours and particularly the adjacent old age home are also being adversely affected. The congestion and noise from cars and persons visiting the site at all hours of the day and night is causing many complaints from the surrounding community and often Kildare Road and Springs Way, which are simply not wide enough to handle the volume of vehicles trying to access the springs, are blocked.

"In response to these complaints, I conducted a site visit with officials from the Traffic Engineering Services and the Traffic Department to ascertain how the site can be better managed."

Smith added that the visit was followed up on Tuesday with a meeting with local councillors, enforcement services, the Water and Sanitation Department, Parks and Recreation and the local subcouncil.

In the interest of improving the management of the site, the following arrangements, applicable from Thursday 1 February, will be put in place at the site:
  • Springs Way will be managed 24 hours a day by City enforcement departments.
  • Traffic Services will be on-site daily to manage congestion and parking and to assist vehicles entering and exiting Springs Way.
  • The site will be accessible to vehicles between 07:00 and 22:00.
  • A Venue Operations Centre will be established and personnel will be posted at this site 24 hours a day to ensure that it is managed optimally and that people are safe.
  • In the interest of speeding up the queues and allowing everybody fair access to the spring water, each person will be requested to only fill containers of up to 25 litres at a time to ensure that no one person holds up the queue – people are welcome to re-join the queue to fill more containers, but it is becoming essential that all those visiting the site be given a fair chance to collect water without some delaying the queues due to filling up hundreds of litres at a time.
Smith stressed that limits are not being set on the amount of water that people collect, they are simply trying to manage the queuing and congestion better and to ensure fair access to all.

He added that these new measures were just a short-term arrangement to try and manage the increasing tension.

"It is clear that the short dead-end street, the narrow access via Kildare Road and lack of parking are not suitable to support the large number of vehicles trying to access the spring.

"Therefore, in the next month we will be re-routing the spring water from this spring to the Newlands swimming pool site 700 metres down the road, which is located on Main Road and which has much better parking and space available," Smith said.

"This arrangement will also reduce the impact on the old age home. This location is far easier to access and has ample parking, and will allow for easier management as well as faster and more convenient access for all people collecting water."

Cape Argus