Last week I had to offload half my cattle herd. This was because my irrigation water has been cut by 95%. My cattle only eat the grass that grows on our farm. In summer we need to irrigate to keep this grass growing. I am one of thousands of farmers getting water from the Theewaterskloof Dam. I am not the first farmer to have his water cut.
Cape Town’s water engineers specifically and the municipal management generally are responsible for this extra pressure they are putting on agriculture, the second largest employer in the Western Cape. Simply, these engineers are not using Cape Town’s greatest asset which is the millions of litres of water pouring off the mountains that the city surrounds on a daily basis. The millions of litres go into stormwater drains and thence into the sea.
Cape Town was settled by the Dutch because of the water that poured off the mountain. There were 36 springs recorded in the City Bowl alone.
Not only would using this water for the residents of Cape Town take one of the many pressures off farmers (Farmers have enough pressure as it is. An article I wrote on this subject in 2012 which is still relevant today, is here), Cape Town residents would be drinking the most wonderful healthy water. On every measure spring water is better to drink than the chemically treated water that comes out of the taps. The person who did the most work on understanding water was Viktor Schauberger who I can guarantee you no water engineer has ever even heard of. Try to read his books. If not then here and here are good places to start. Especially the second here.
Let me preempt some clever academic or activist who from behind their computer screen, not from any experience of the soil, will no doubt say that beef uses too much water and we should all become vegan. We use 46% of the recommended water used for pastures and 4.8% of the recommended water for vineyards. There is an intentional . between the 4 and the 8 in the previous sentence. We use so much less water because we practice regenerative agriculture that builds soil carbon and hence the water holding capacity of the soil. Our beef contains the right fats because the animals are raised on grass unlike the vegan kale which contains 17 types of pesticides. Healthy fats are the cornerstone of a proper diet (Read “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A Price if you dispute this). Furthermore our beef operation generates Carbon credits which no vegan farming operation anywhere in the world can do.
I finish on a positive note. Stellenbosch Municipality is going to charge farmers who practice regenerative agriculture less rates and taxes than conventional farmers who poison and pollute as they go about their business as usual.
20 March 2017