Disregard for water restrictions

Liz Harrison, FIsh Hoek

We are residents of Peers Hill and live on the boundaries of the Fish Hoek Primary School sports fields, and we are incensed by the continuous almost daily use of a water cannon and/or sprinklers that operate from early in the morning until late afternoon.

The water cannon continuously sprays gallons of water high into the air, and is moved from one area to another, regardless of the current weather and even when the children are on holiday or present.

Apparently the school has preservation tanks that are filled from a small dam – more like a pond – at the bottom of their grounds.

We have repeatedly contacted the school over the last six months to express our concern about the excessive use (and abuse) of the ground water and have been advised that the school has a special dispensation to use it, are acting completely within their rights to do so and are doing everything possible to save water.

Many of us in this area have boreholes or water pumps, which we diligently use only at the permitted times (for one hour before 9am on Tuesdays and Saturdays).

We are greatly offended by the blatant and very obvious disregard for the current water restrictions by the school.

We have enjoyed living on the parameters of the school and greatly admire their sporting activities. It is a pleasure to hear how happy the children are at play and at sport, and the school should be congratulated on their endeavours in this respect. However, we are really perturbed by the continued lack of consideration for the water restrictions under regulation 6B, in place during this time of severe drought.

We understand a green sports field is desirable, but the water is often used even when there has been rainfall and sometimes until the ground is soggy and waterlogged.

What can the terms of the special dispensation be that permits this excessive water wastage? And, more importantly, what kind of an example is the school setting to the children who witness it?

* Fish Hoek Primary School (FHPS) principal Neill Kinkead-Weekes, responds:

As correctly stated, FHPS has a dispensation to use borehole water to ensure that the playing fields, where the children play each day, are maintained.

We have recently been inspected by an official from council who was impressed with all the school is doing to save water. The official approved the watering schedule of the school.

We are also in regular contact with ward councillor Felicity Purchase, who has also approved what the school is doing to conserve water.

The school has been following a water management plan it drew up in January.

We have, by these measures, reduced our water consumption significantly and we continue to do so.

Water management plan:

* Old cisterns replaced in senior girls’ bathrooms. New cisterns are much smaller.

* All taps fitted with a device to prevent them from being opened fully.

* Hand sanitiser in all the classrooms.

* Tanks set up for swimming pool backwash water.

* Borehole water connected to the senior boys’ and girls’ toilets.

* Tanks bought for borehole water storage in Grade R and at aftercare.

* In domestic skills lessons, no cooking is to be done that requires water for cleaning up. Skills, such as beading, needlework, plaiting etc. will be taught.

* In assemblies, pupils will be made more aware of water saving.

* Water saving drive to be done during domestic skills lessons with all the grades.

* Buying and storing of water for emergencies.

* Only borehole water used for watering fields.

From February 1:

* Hand sanitiser (no water) to be used in all the toilets. No towels will be used as they require washing.

* Grade 2 and 3 children to use the senior toilets – toilets will be allocated for each grade. Staff to use the above toilets as well.

* Grade 1s and Rs to be told not to flush toilets – cleaning staff to flush the toilets at certain times.

* Pupils to bring their own drinking water and wet wipes to school.

* Reading and recording of water meters twice a day and report back to staff and pupils.

* Staff to use one mug only per day. Mugs to be washed at end of day.

From March 1:

* Aftercare and tuck shop to serve food that requires minimal water for cooking and washing up.

* Staff to use and clean own mug.

* Cleaning of floors and classrooms will be done with recycled/borehole water.

* Aftercare and Grade R toilets connected to borehole water.