Cape Town, South Africa, is a major port city of 3.75 million people. Unlike Sitka’s past contracts, Greengold has place to put large volumes of water: Directly into Cape Town’s storage system. (Creative Commons photo/Andrew Massyn)

Bulk water has been an elusive enterprise for Sitka. Companies have been purchasing water rights since 1996, but not a single drop has shipped so far. The newest customer to take on the challenge is on the other side of the world.

Anna-Maria Gericke owns Greengold Distributors, based in the Western Cape region of South Africa. She has been in business with her two children, Misha and Jacques, since 1999.

Greengold Distributors has focused mainly on the food and vegetable trade, but has lately moved on to more ambitious products like cement and tables eggs. Now, they want to tackle water.

Gericke spoke with KCAW Reporter Emily Kwong over Skype after the meeting. She spoke of her determination to deliver water to Cape Town in 2018. “Garry White [Executive Director of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park] has been really helpful.,” Gericke said. “I have a wonderful charter agent in New York, which works for the biggest private tanker chartering firm in the world. I’m trying to surround myself with people who know.”

During the call, Gericke described the dry South African landscape before her. She runs her business with her two children, Misha and Jacques, out of Grabouw. “It’s very frustrating being so far away and the time difference is a frustration, but I promised myself the moment that ship pulls into Sitka, I will be there. There’s so many people I want to look in the eye and so many people I want to thank. But in the end, for me, I’m doing it because we have a need.”

The Sitka Assembly approved Green Gold’s purchase agreement on first reading Tuesday night (03-13-18) at their regular meeting, among other business. If approved on second and final reading in late March, the company must export 50 million gallons of water in the first 6 months or Sitka can terminate the agreement. Read the purchase agreement here: Green Gold Purchase Agreement

The City already has two other purchase agreements already in play, one with the bottling company Eckert Fine Beverages and another with Arctic Blue Waters Alaska.

The Sitka Assembly also approved eliminating a garbage collection route that picked up trash along unserviced roads and a tariff schedule for the multi-purpose dock at the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. They upheld their decision from last meeting (02-27-18) to endorse a national carbon fee and dividend policy, an initiative of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.  

Their next meeting is Thursday, March 15th at 6 p.m., where they’ll review the general fund budget for FY19.