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Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition ban on bottled water ‘ill-conceived’

The Cape Town Water Crisis Coalition’s call to ban local water bottling plants is ‘ill-conceived’, according to the South African National Bottled Water Association (SANBWA).

Chief among SANBWA’s reasons is that the total bottled water industry bottles around 500-million bottles a year versus the 500-million litre daily requirement in the City of Cape Town. Also, the capital investment in equipment to hygienically pump and bottle water is not unsubstantial.

SANBWA pointed out that sources licenced by the bottled water industry are not infinite, and strictly controlled to ensure sustainability.

Volume cannot simply be increased at will because, for example:

  • Bottlers need to ensure they pump at levels to maintain the long-term sustainability of their sources
  • Bottlers can only legally pump as much as permitted by their licences
  • External factors, such as PET availability, can impact delivery rates.

Additionally, the most recent Government Gazette is calling for borehole owners to reduce their volumes by 40% to 60% of annual volume. Two of the three SANBWA members in the Western Cape bottle from sources only accessible by borehole.

In a radio interview, the Coalition’s media officer Ashley Fataar also suggested the wine industry be closed down at the moment because it takes more than 780 litres of water to produce one bottle of wine.

Professor Anthony Turton, at the Centre for Environmental Management at Free State University, said people should not forget that the agricultural sector is what’s sustaining the economy of South Africa and job creation. According to SANBWA, the industry employs in excess of 2 000 people.