water

Fishermen on Muizenberg Beach

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Fishermen setting out for the day early in the morning. They will probably catch Snoek, and maybe a little Yellow Tail or Cape Salmon.

Muizenberg has always had a very active fishing community, and one of the benefits of living in the Southern part of Cape Town is having a good supply of fresh fish.

You can often see the line fishermen fishing on the beach, especially early in the morning and in the late afternoon. Sometimes you see the boats coming in, the smaller boats often landing on the beach, offloading their cargo directly onto the back of bakki’s to go off for resale.

Driving to work on Strandfontein beach at about 8:00am, I spotted these fishermen taking their small rowing boat out. The boat reminded me of a bygone era of fishing, the days before motors, marine radios and GPS. The sepia effect takes it back in time.

The canals of Venice

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There are two places I have visited that looked exactly like I imagined in my head. The first was the mountains of Switzerland, and the second are the canals of Venice. The water is a deep emerald, there are quaint wooden and stone bridges linking the many islands together and the city is in a constant battle for survival against the elements.

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If you want to get around you either walk or take a boat. It’s the only time in my life that I have taken a boat to the airport and many of the hotels have a dock as the primary entrance. You can easily get lost wondering around the city. In fact getting lost is probably one of the best ways to visit the city. Just wonder around and see the buildings and experience a little of this unique city.

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Batobus de Paris (water taki)

The batobus (water taxi) is a great way to get around Paris in a more relaxed and quieter manner than the roads or metro.

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A cool trick I learned with the water taxi is that your pass is valid for 24 hours, so if you want to take a break from walking around all the museums, there is nothing stopping you from grabbing a baguette and a bottle of wine, and enjoying a “free” lunchtime or sunset cruise up and down the river.

Off the grid

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Bacterial filtering plant – step 1

I work at Old Mutual at Mutualpark in Cape Town. It is a massive campus of several buildings serving about 10 000 people. To provide water for that many people requires about 450 000l water per day; that amounts to about 45l per person total (this is total consumption including the restaurants, kitchens, aircon units etc). So I think it’s a remarkable achievement that they managed to get the entire campus off the water grid by building an onsite world-class water recycling plant.

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Storage tanks

The main source of recycling water is waste water from the campus – yes every time you flush or wash your hands the output is recycled into drinking water, and its supplemented with grey water from the city (which then also goes through the filtration system). No city drinking water is needed.

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Sand filtering – step 2

I was very lucky to go on a tour of the plant, and its impressive. It is capable of generating up to 800 000l water per day; that is almost double what is required on the campus. The water is super-clean, is tested everyday, and is compliant will the regular legal requirements (SANS 241 to be specific). It is the first privately developed waste water filtration plant in South Africa and can supply water to the campus without any clean municipal water required. None at all!

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Reverse osmosis – step 3

Note: I mentioned 3 steps but that is massively simplified; it is a complex multi-step filtration system they use.

So between the solar panels, waste recycling and now water recycling I think they are doing a good job with the environment. And it makes business sense. The water plant will only need a few years to pay for itself. This is what large companies should be doing.

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