Water costs necessary

Steven Burnett, Fish Hoek

I’m writing in response to “Water Woes” and “Unfair Water Bill”.

Both complainants have an issue with standing charges on their connection and the relative increases on their municipal water bill compared to before our drought crisis.

There is no perfect way to charge for water for such a diverse group of users. The City needs to manage water consumption, reserves, forward planning and meet a budget for the service. A blend of fixed and usage charges is probably going to stay long term as it balances the fixed and variable costs faced by the City from supplying and charging for it.

It seems like people have already forgotten what it was like only recently to be facing the possibility of our water resources running dry. The response by Capetonians by reducing our combined usage was easy to measure and (despite all the grumbling) incredibly successful.

The role we all played together should be celebrated. We will surely never go back to a case of not caring about water usage, so don’t expect the pricing models to do it either – water being too cheap is what mainly got us into trouble in the first place!

Looking at the actual numbers provided by both authors, they are complaining about now paying 3.4 and 4.7 c per litre of water respectively.

To sit in my house and have clean water delivered on demand at my convenience is something I don’t take for granted and am more than happy to pay for. Napkin calculations are that my family of four spends roughly 0.5% of our monthly budget on the cost of clean water and sewage removal – a vital service at a bargain.

There is, of course, an alternative available to the complainants.

They can disconnect from the water reticulation, and rather use rainwater/boreholes, tanks, pumps, filtration and put in composting toilets/septic tanks. The installation cost of that will surely silence their arguments of the City’s “unfair, penalising and absurd” water pricing.