Water? No problem, say top Cape real estate developers


Water? No problem, say top Cape real estate developers

Alistair Anderson
Real estate groups are coming up with innovative ways to ensure tenants have water in the event of Day Zero.
WATER RELIEF! Real estate groups are coming up with innovative ways to ensure tenants have water in the event of Day Zero.

Several prominent listed real estate groups have promised tenants they will have water in the event of Day Zero, when the City of Cape Town is expected to turn off the taps.

Property groups Growthpoint Properties, Hyprop Investments, Redefine Properties and the Amdec group all own or are developing buildings worth hundreds of billions of rand, say they set up water management strategies years ago. All say they have taken steps to protect their tenants, and their shareholders interests without relying on the state for support.

Major banks such as Standard Bank and Nedbank are also guaranteeing their customers and staff that they will have access to banking facilities post Day Zero.

Amdec’s CEO James Wilson said its development and construction arms had both implemented measures and the company was confident it would be able to operate normally through the crisis.

“Our construction division is trying to preserve water by reducing its use. We are trying to get off of the municipal supply as much as possible. We use boreholes, effluent water and non water intensive building techniques,” said Wilson.

As borehole water does not need to be treated, it can be used in construction. Non-drinking water is used to keep erosion and dust to a minimum.

Cement is pre-delivered and Amdec does not mix cement.

Amdec is using steel frames and light weight materials for interior walls, instead of bricks which require water to be set.

Werner van Antwerpen, head of Sustainability at Growthpoint said the company which owns 37 industrial properties, 34 office buildings and some nine retail centres in Cape Town, has two days worth of water stored for all its tenants. This would be trucked to the affected buildings.

“We began to look at the consumption efficiency of our buildings across SA about four years back and began to implement plans including a crisis plan in the last half year. Our Cape portfolio’s water use was down 40% last year,” he said.

After the two days Growthpoint would have to access an augmented water supply. For a start, the company had an air-to-water plant in its Sandton office, which was one potential source of water for tenants in Cape Town. This air-to-water system could be purchased abroad and transported to Cape Town.

“This technology is energy intensive to use but can be set up easily. There are various American suppliers that we can access,” he said.

Grant Elliott, general manager, Coastal at Redefine Properties said that together with the cooperation from communities, tenants and employees, the company’s Western Cape arm was able to reduce water usage by over 10% during the last 12 months.

Day Zero

Day Zero is currently predicted for  April 12 when the City of Cape Town is set to turn all taps off.

Hyprop Investments, which owns three malls in Cape Town, including Canal Walk, Somerset Wall and Cape Gate reduced water consumption between 20% and 40% across the malls compared with last year.

It had spent about R19-million in capital to implement a grey water system as well as a backup potable water and backup grey water system.

Meanwhile, the banking sector was also preparing for the eventuality of Day Zero.

Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom said, where required, the bank would endeavour to have atmospheric generators that would produce between 300 litres and 500 litres of water per day.

For larger sites, multiple generators may be used and employees would have access to bottled or sachets of water to remain hydrated. Ablution facilities would be made available, and waterless urinals and waterless sanitisers would be used.