Water tunnels hidden under Cape Town’s streets

Date:21 August 2017 Author: Nikky Knijf Tags:, , ,

Vlogger Adam Spires heads below Cape Town city’s streets to explore the underground water tunnels. These tunnels gather millions of litres of fresh run-off water and leads it straight into the ocean every day.

A brief history of the city’s canals

As Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape in 1652, they began constructing canals throughout the city. The canals would serve as a reminder of home and an easy way to guide fresh water through the city.

Years later the canals were covered up, although the reasons seem to vary, the general consensus is that the canal water had become so polluted it threatened public health. By the 1870’s most of the canals in Cape Town were covered and faded from memory for nearly 40 years. The water tunnels were rediscovered in the early 1900’s when welders triggered an explosion in Adderley street. The explosion was caused by gas build-up one of the water tunnels.

Looking at the underground water tunnels

In this video Spires heads into the water tunnels below the city with tour guide and owner of Good Hope Adventures, Mathias Weisse. The duo head into the tunnels from the Castle of Good Hope and share some of the history hidden from view. Spires also quizzes his guide about the water that constantly flows underfoot.

This water is said to be clean run-off from the city and the springs on the mountain. Weisse estimates that one tunnel guides about 2,5 million litres of water to the ocean every day. According to him there are between 15 and 20 fresh water springs on the castle’s side of Table Mountain that are all guided to the ocean by these water tunnels. It could account for between 18 and 20 million litres of wasted water per day. (In case you were wondering, that’s 7,3 billion litres of water a year.) This is a shocking revelation, especially when the Cape is stricken by the worst drought in a century.

More about the tunnels

Watch the video above to see the incredible hidden water tunnels below the city streets. You’ll also learn some interesting facts about the city.

If you’re keen on heading into the tunnels, check out Good Hope Adventures for more information about tours in, around and under Cape Town.


Video credit: Adam Spires

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