blog action day: reclaiming camissa

Submitted by MichaelE on Fri, 2010-10-15 13:35

the camissa zonesthe camissa zonesThis is our offering as part of Blog Action Day - telling the world about Reclaim Camissa: reconnecting Capetonians with their water.

Water is vital for all life on the planet and is something many of us take for granted, yet women in parts of Africa walk up to 40 billion hours a year in search of water which is still often unhygienic. When one looks at the projected models of rainfall distribution in South Africa due to climate change, large parts of the country are going to have severe water scarcity. We have already seen how changing weather has caused a drought in the Eastern Cape this year.

The City of Cape Town believes that the city will no longer be water secure by 2013, however, there is a not-for-profit organisation that has an integrated plan for water in the City of Cape Town.

Reclaim Camissa has created the blue-prints for a programme that seeks to provide a sustainable water management strategy for Cape Town's city centre. The plan is to tap into the kilometres of historic underground tunnels that carry spring and storm water to the Atlantic. The original system was first built by the Dutch colonisers as an irrigation system in the 1600's and at its peak provided water for a population of 111 000 people. These channels were slowly covered over and filled in until no trace remained by the beginning of the 20th century.

Camissa means place of the sweet waters, and is what the Khoi called the area that became Cape Town. Today the water in the rivers around Cape Town is anything but sweet. The Reclaim Camissa organisation provides a new way of thinking about water as an integral part of our lives.

The Camissa project hopes to reclaim the 'lost spaces' associated with the rivers that flowed through the central city. This will be done by creating a public landscape and pedestrian structure in the city, created by linking a series of green and urban open spaces associated with the water system to create an interconnected series of parks where water has pride of place. The plans also include using boats for transport – a bit like the gondolas in Venice.

The aim of the Reclaim Camissa project is creating a sustainable approach to water use, planning, design and management based on the value of water as a significant public resource that is not separate from the value of the landscape. Through the project they hope to make Society mindful of the role of water in the city landscape; and both public and private institutions that manage water and associated public assets realise that the business as usual approach to water and land management is unsustainable.

The programme proposes creating a pedestrian network that would run from the Table Mountain Nature Reserve to Duncan Dock, and be divided into seven interlocking precincts or areas. They would create a navigable canal-way with the first and second sections covering from the V&A Waterfront to the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The third section would make use of the old waterways, which could be used as subterranean waterways for water taxis below Adderly Street and up to the Company Gardens. The fourth section would include the Company's Garden and Parliament. The fifth section would include a water sustainability park that would recycle run-off water from Table Mountain and springs in the central business district. The last two sections would provide catchment areas for storm and spring water.

Reclaim Camissa was set up to provide stewardship and raise funding to implement the plan.

Reclaim Camissa has a visionary approach to the urban landscape of the city of Cape Town and innovative ideas as to how we can make the most our natural resources. The Reclaim Camissa plan takes into account one of our most vital resources and uses it in a way that is sustainable both for us and the environment.

So think about the water that comes out of your tap today and realize that many people around the world do not have access to safe water, become water wise and learn to conserve water, and use it in a sustainable way such as what Reclaim Camissa is proposing.