Ricochet News

Junior Town Council enjoys educational tour of facilities

May 12, 2018
Junior Town Council enjoys educational tour of facilities

To help junior councillors gain an understanding of what local government does, Overstrand’s 2017/18 Junior Town Council (JTC) paid a visit to several municipal facilities in and around Hermanus on Wednesday 9 May.

Executive Mayor Dudley Coetzee and Deputy Mayor Elnora Gillion met the group of junior councillors from Hermanus High, Qhayiya Secondary, Hawston Secondary, Northcliff House College and Gansbaai Academia briefly and were peppered with some very inquisitive and interesting questions.

After their light working lunch, the JTC members first visited the Preekstoel bio-filtration water treatment plant – the first full-scale water treatment plant of its kind in South Africa.

Here Isak Henecke, the plant superintendent, explained to his curious audience the intensive purification processes water must undergo to ensure that the stringent quality standards set for potable water are met.

He pointed out that the Preekstoel plant’s specific purpose is to remove the very high iron and manganese content from borehole water before the latter can be blended with treated surface water originating from the De Bos dam.

For this purpose, the plant relies on a natural process whereby iron- and manganese-consuming bacteria are used to rid borehole water of these two elements. Chemicals are only used to adjust the pH of the water to the ideal levels for the bacteria to thrive. As a result, the plant delivers water that is well within the national standards for drinking water.

Thereafter, the group embarked on a visit to the Walker Bay substation. Here they were met by Koos du Plessis and Francois Bruwer from the Electrical Department, who did their utmost to explain the exact function of every weird-looking wire, tube and box found in a substation such as this one.

The group found the high-voltage insulators, designed to prevent electricity from "leaking" into the ground, and the state-of-the-art 66 000 Volt, 2000 Amp ABB GIS Switchgear especially “awesome”.

The tour concluded with a visit to the solid-waste transfer station and recycling plant where they were briefed by Johan van Taak, manager: solid waste management. In his talk, Van Taak made a point of encouraging the youngsters to make lifestyle decisions to reduce the waste humans create by recycling and composting.

“Start by separating your household waste at home, but please make sure it is clean and dry before putting it in the clear bag,” he suggested.

In response to a question on what happens to the waste after it has been collected, Van Taak explained that all types of waste first go to the transfer stations in Hermanus and Kleinmond from where it is transported to the landfill site at Karwyderskraal.

To emphasise the costs involved in treating solid waste, Van Taak pointed out that the municipality spends around R570 000 per month just to transport general waste to the landfill site and that it has to fork out a further R245 000 per month to chip so-called “green waste” to ensure that it is fit for re-use.

The group was accompanied by Unity Mtomile from the Enlighten Education Trust who oversees the Junior Town Council on behalf of Overstrand, Mona Matthews, a teacher at Gansbaai Academia, and Lusapho Calata, a teacher at Qhayiya Secondary.