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Tougher water restrictions and top water wasters to be fined

By Jessica Anne Wood

On Thursday the City of Cape Town announced that level 3B water restrictions will be implemented from 1 February 2017. This will see tougher limitations placed on residents, some of whom are already struggling to reduce water usage.

However, while many fight to lower their water consumption, the City has announced that household water bills have risen by R254 million over the past 12 months despite drought conditions and water restrictions. Following excessive water use by some residents, the City has identified the top 20 000 excessive water using households, who will be fined and steps will be taken to make them more compliant with the water restrictions.

A mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, and Energy told Justmoney that these 20 000 residents would be contacted 28/29 January 2017.

Continued violation of the water restrictions

According to the committee member, if residents continue to disregard the water restrictions, stricter ones will be imposed. In addition, the City may consider lowering water pressure in areas where there is the infrastructure to do so. “Please note that consistent supply will be sustained to the area, however, it will be at a lower pressure,” stressed the committee member.

The formal residential sector in Cape Town receives approximately 65% of the water supply. As such, whether or not the City achieves its water saving targets relies largely on whether these residents play their part in water conservation. The committee member noted that complaints by residents regarding high water wastage in informal areas, and high water use by the tourism sector, as well as a perceived lack of planning by the City, “indicates that there is a reluctance on the part of some residents to accept the role they have played in the declining dam levels.”

How much water do we have left?

There were claims that Cape Town only had 100 days of water left a week or two ago. While the City has not confirmed how much water is left, the committee member pointed out that according to the City’s projections, dam levels could reach 20% by mid to late April. However, that is assuming that dam levels continue to fall at the same rate that they are currently falling.

“If all users of water from the Western Cape Water Supply System, including the City of Cape Town, neighbouring towns and agricultural users, comply with the requirement to reduce water consumption by 20% that has been imposed by the National Department of Water and Sanitation, then there should be sufficient water in our dams until the start of the winter in 2017.  This is, however, dependent on users complying with water restrictions and meeting the water restriction target,” emphasised the committee member.

Level 3B water restrictions

In a statement, councillor Xanthea Limberg, the mayoral committee member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy for the City of Cape Town noted that the increase to level 3B water restrictions have followed from the repeated failure to reach the intended water savings target of 800 million litres of collective water use per day.

“As at 23 January 2017, the average consumption was 80 million litres above this target and dam levels had dropped to 40.4%. It must be borne in mind that it is very difficult to extract the remaining 10% of a dam’s capacity,” explained Limberg.

He added: “The City must therefore urgently further intensify the current restriction measures by introducing Level 3B restrictions. The approval of the 3B fine schedule by the Magistrates’ Court is expected to be in place shortly. A higher amount for spot fines of R5 000 has been proposed as part of the fine schedule.”

The difference between level 3 and level 3B water restrictions are as follows:


In addition to the above, the statement emphasised that no irrigation using potable water will be permitted at City facilities, and no increase of the indigent water allocation over and above the free 350 litres a day will be granted, unless through prior application and permission.

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