Dire need to keep on restricting water

Dam watchers have been constantly updating about the dire drought situation, and saving water has quickly become a personal mission for many.

This is a breakdown of our current water restrictions and some information to keep the saving inspired: even if it is simply a bucket in your sink to catch any water when rinsing dishes – or your own fan-dangled attempt at rigging a grey water system.

The City says most households use between 200 and 600 litres a day. However, houses with large gardens and swimming pools generally use much more water.

More than 30kl a month (1000 litres a day) can be considered as relatively high consumption.

Cape Town had Level 3B water restrictions instituted from last week, Wednesday February 1.

Level 3 tariffs remain applicable for Level 3B water restrictions.

The idea behind the water restrictions are hopes for a 30% reduction in water usage.

Irrigation with municipal drinking water is now only allowed on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 9am or after 6pm for a maximum of one hour a day on each property.

No irrigation is allowed within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation.

The ban on the use of hosepipes or any sprinkler systems when using municipal drinking waters still applies.

All borehole/ wellpoints users are strongly encouraged to follow the same watering times as applicable for municipal drinking water.

Groundwater sources must be used sparingly, to avoid wastage and evaporation so do not water in the heat of the day or in windy conditions.

If you are elderly or disabled, you are allowed to apply for exemption, but these are not guaranteed.

Each case is treated on merit and there is no blanket approval for the disabled and the aged.

Your application must include a motivation and supporting documents about the disability. Copies of your previous three months’ water bill showing reasonable consumption will further support your application.

Before applying for exemptions, the City has asked residents to consider using a smaller watering can and planting drought-resistant plants.

All water users with exemptions granted under Level 3 must keep to Level 3B irrigation days and times. For example, if you are disabled and were granted exemption to use a hosepipe, you are allowed to use a hosepipe on Level 3B irrigation days and times.

Spot fines of up to R3 000 for water wastage may be issued by the City of Cape Town in terms of the Water By-law but the approval of a Level 3B fine schedule by the Magistrate’s court is expected to be in place shortly and this will allow for spot fines of R5 000.

Repeat offenders could be summonsed to appear in court and on conviction may be liable for a fine of up to R10 000, or imprisonment of up to five years, or both.

The City website on water restrictions says there is no need to worry if your water is cloudy or slightly discoloured, or tastes different during times of water restrictions.

Lower dam levels, hot and windy conditions and changes in the water distribution system can lead to these temporary changes.

Cape Town’s water quality is monitored continuously and all water supplied to your tap is safe to drink.

If you have spotted your neighbour watering using an irrigation system or hosepipe then first check with them if they are using grey water or borehole water – or if they have the necessary exemptions.

Use of hosepipes and irrigation systems connected to alternative water sources, such as boreholes, grey water systems and rain water tanks, is allowed.

When using grey water you need to put up a sign stating that you are using non-potable water for irrigation clearly visible from a public thoroughfare.

There are no restrictions on watering times when using grey water such as bath water.

With Level 3B restrictions, aside from only being allowed to use a bucket or watering can on Tuesdays and Saturdays, you are also not allowed to wash your cars – these must now be taken to a car wash.

No increase of the indigent water allocation over and above the free 350l a day will be granted, unless(through prior application and permission for specific events such as burial ceremonies.

To help the City save water, report water issues and restriction offences:

Call 0860 103 089; SMS 31373 or email water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za

The City’s website says it services a pipe network of close to 11 000km (the equivalent distance from here to Australia), to which 650 000 properties are connected.

Every year approximately 3 000 burst water mains and over 30 000 leaking water connections are repaired.

Old pipes are more likely to leak or burst and the City says it has an extensive pipe replacement project under way.

It said that the City has a limited number of repair teams available and large pipe bursts and leaks are prioritised over smaller bursts and leaks. The City often receives complaints about bursts and leaks being forgotten. However, the reality is often that repair teams are simply prioritising larger bursts elsewhere in the city, they said.