At a press briefing yesterday, Cape Town Cycle Tour Director David Bellairs said Tour organisers had reassessed the way they do things and seriously consider whether the Cycle Tour should go ahead under the current conditions of a water crisis in which taps are set to be switched off in April.
Bellairs said organisers had to weigh up the enormous benefit to the local economy and to charities that the event brought every year, against te impact that it could have on the city’s water supplies.
“The Cape Town Cycle Tour was established 41 years ago with the sole purpose of raising money for charity. It is not a commercial entity but a not-for-profit Trust and every single cent of the net surplus from the Cape Town Cycle Tour is distributed to the Rotary Club of Claremont and the Pedal Power Association for community upliftment programmes,” Bellairs said.
Over the past 17 years, the Cycle Tour had raised in excess of R109-million for its two beneficiaries. 2018 would see in excess of R10 million distributed to them and numerous charities rely on this source of income.
“Furthermore, participants use the event as a platform to raise money for other charities which compounds the charitable impact of the event raises,” Bellairs said.
Bellairs said over R500 million flowed into the Western Cape economy during the week of the Cycle Tour.
“For the last decade, the Cycle Tour has been presented with a variety of challenges – from scorching temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Celcius, to extensive fires raging across the South Peninsula and, last year, winds in excess of 100km/h. This is our year of water – or rather, no water.
“We have had to reassess the way we do things and seriously consider whether the Cycle Tour should go ahead under the current conditions. We have spent an enormous amount of time considering our options. The decision has not been an easy one to make,” Bellairs said.
“On the one hand we have the needs of the charities we support and the stimulation provided to a Western Cape economy reeling under the effects of the drought. On the other, we are well aware of the very real concerns of the residents of the City of Cape Town, who make up the majority of our riders, the volunteers who help us stage the event, and the incredible supporters who make the event the special day that it is.
“We have been urgently seeking a way forward that will help us continue to support our beneficiaries, while acknowledging and offsetting the event’s water footprint. The water shortage is beyond a crisis. It is a disaster and should be declared such.”
Even if the City managed to avoid Day Zero, the water shortage would have a significant impact on the economy, not just of Cape Town, but the economy of the entire Western Cape and South Africa as a whole. The effects would be felt for a number of years.
“As we have already communicated, it is our intention that the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour event day will draw zero litres of drinking water from the municipal supply. Eliminating the event’s reliance on municipal drinking water will be achieved through a variety of strategies. These include bringing water in from upcountry for drinking and ice on the route, and using locally-produced desalinated water for all cleansing purposes. Water stations along the route will be reduced to the 14 essential from a medical point of view.”
The majority of Cape Town Cycle Tour participants are resident in Cape Town and surrounds. Approximately 15 000 riders participate in Cycle Tour from outside the borders of the Western Cape, including international entrants, Bellairs said.
“As we have their details on our system, we are able to communicate directly with them to ensure they understand the severity of the drought situation in Cape Town. Those travelling by road to the Cape will be encouraged to bring sufficient drinking water with them for their own daily consumption.
Bellairs said they believed they had arrived at a solution that achieved the balancing act we were hoping for.
“After a great deal of thought, and discussion with all stake holders, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust agreed that in addition to taking the Tour off the municipal grid, it will offset the water footprint of the estimated 15 000 participants from beyond the Western Cape. As a result, we can confirm that the 2018 Cape Town Cycle Tour will go ahead.”
It is estimated that visitors coming to Cape Town for the event will use between 1.5-million to 1.750-million litres of water over the duration of their stay.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust has therefore committed to taking some of the money that would have gone to charitable distribution to purchase an amount of 2-million litres of spring water sourced from only licenced and fully tested suppliers, and from an area not experiencing drought.
“This water will be put back into the local water grid. We are working closely with the City of Cape Town around the mechanics of how this water will be introduced back into the municipal reticulation system,” Bellairs said.
“We are also in the process of rolling out a comprehensive communications plan aimed at both locals and targeting out-of-town participants, making the seriousness of the situation in Cape Town clear and providing information on how we expect riders to behave. We will also ensure our hospitality partners take this even further. It is vitally important that all visiting participants understand the dire situation that exists in the Cape.
In addition to the steps outlined above, below are some of the initiatives the Tour is taking to ensure the Cape Town Cycle Tour 2018 event is off the water grid:
- All suppliers related to Cycle Tour will be signing service level agreements specifying their usage and where that water comes from, and requiring a commitment to our Water Policy. No suppliers may utilise water for our event that comes directly off the City Grid.
- Cycle Tour has 360 toilets that are utilised throughout the event. Sanitech is our service provider and all water utilised by them will be greywater, obtained from various treatment plants.
- Waterless soap solutions are being provided as opposed to wash basins for handwashing.
- Organisers will be monitoring and educating spectators on route to ensure there is no spraying down of cyclists or portable pools in use on event day.
- All water ballast previously utilised for weighting down structures has been changed to cement blocks.
- All refreshment station water will be privately supplied and will not come from the City water grid. We are also providing clearly marked grey water systems whereby excess water will be put into grey water bins provided and taken to a water treatment plant post Cycle Tour.
The Cape Town Cycle Tour will be staged on 11 March 2018, with a new Start at the Grand Parade Precinct. Keep up to date with developments of the Cape Town Cycle Tour by liking their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/cycletour or by following them on Twitter at @CTCycleTour or on Instagram @CTCycleTour.
For any event queries, or assistance with entries, please contact the Cycle Tour Events Office during office hours on 087 820 7223 or visit www.capetowncycletour.com.