Cape Town - While Clanwilliam Dam’s R2.5 billion makeover will undoubtedly benefit the catchment area, it has outraged at least 22 homeowners who expect their properties to be expropriated within months to provide accommodation for construction workers when the wall is raised 13m.
Most of these properties will eventually be flooded by the raised water level - but owners thought they had another few years to enjoy their waterside holiday homes before having to give them up.
Instead, they were told in May they would be bought out by the Department of Water and Sanitation within months and their homes would become living quarters for members of the dam wall construction team.
Even more devastated are the owners whose houses will not eventually be under water, but who are being forced to sell them to Water Affairs as they fall within the “buy-out line”.
The holiday homes are part of the Caleta Cove development. The log cabins on stilts look over the dam, and are mostly used as holiday getaways by Cape Town families.
Of the 30 houses at Caleta Cove, 22 are likely to be expropriated.
The homeowners said they had not yet received formal notification from Water Affairs, but a property valuer from the department told them in May their houses would be expropriated within four months.
While the buy-out figure remains unsettled the homeowners do not want to be identified, but were willing to share their stories of happy memories at the dam.
One father has been taking his daughters to their Caleta Cove house since they were 8 and 4. Now he takes his grandchildren.
“All our children grew up at Clanwilliam during holiday time,” he said. “It’s a really special place for us. It’s a part of the family. It’s very disturbing to potentially lose the place.”
His property is far above the planned water-level line, and is even above the freak-flood line, but falls within the buy-out line - meaning that even though his house will never be under water, he has to give it up.
He said with most of the houses being bought by Water Affairs and the workforce moving in, the quiet community would change completely.
“It’s going to have a dramatic change on the nature of Caleta,” he said.
He had planned to spend half of his time there when he retired. Now he doesn’t know if he will be able to spend another December there.
He expects the department to come up with an offer in the next month or so, but the process is already behind schedule.
The department did not respond to requests for comment.