Water woes

Jacob Beute, Muizenberg

City water rates, as you published, (for high usage, exceeding 50kl/month), will be increased from R93.39 to R200.16 (“City tightens water belt”, Echo, November 3). May we never reach 50kl, as from December 2016.

A water account can then, hyperbolically, reach many thousands.

I once experienced a leak and this really cost me. Council was kind enough to spread the usage over three months, greatly reducing the average asking rate. I trust that council will always work on averages to soften often unforeseen monthly spikes, possibly even work on six-month averages.

The above R200 rate, however, is not the whole story. Add approximately 75 percent for sewage and 14 percent VAT, and the combined rate increases to almost R 400/kl.

I measure rainfall daily here in Muizenberg and have kept records over the past 10 years, the average thus far being 868mm with the lowest rainfall having been these last two years, being 491mm last year and 551mm so far this year. This shows a period of drought – all the more reason to save the water in our ever receding dams.

Financially, City will greatly score on high-end users, often being large families (children, nowadays, cannot afford to establish themselves elsewhere) with the resultant laundry water load often being the single biggest user.

To save water, we allow our laundry water to fill a large drum, which we then siphon into our garden. Little of our overall consumption (much less than 75 percent) therefore enters the sewage. Is the added approximately 75 percent for sewage therefore a fair estimate? How about 50 percent? More and more people are now making use of their grey water for gardens.

And how about the City averaging our usage over three or even six months for those unforeseen spikes? All of these may be further incentives for us to save our dwindling city water.

* Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services for the City of Cape Town, responds:

The City assists customers on a once-off basis with a rebate when underground leaks occur for a period of no longer than three months based on the specifications of the Tariff Policy. The City cannot assist with additional underground leaks on the private property. Ultimately, the maintenance of private plumbing infrastructure and control of usage rests with the owner of the property.

There is no intention for the City to “score on high-end users”. Tariffs are set to recover the cost of supplying the service. The usage of water during periods of drought is managed via demand management and the City is requesting that customers reduce their consumption to protect this scarce resource.
The Level 3 tariff intends to recover the cost, based on the projected reduced volumes.

The calculation of the sanitation amount is based on a percentage of the water usage.
The reduction of water usage will therefore have an impact on the sanitation volumes and the same principle explained above will be applicable.

The current methodology is to apply 70 percent for Domestic Tariff (full) customers. Should the percentage be reduced, the City will have to increase the tariff to still recover the cost of delivering the service.