By: Dominic Adriaanse and Quinton Mtyala
Cape Town – Waste water at your peril. The City says it is going after water-wasters and will fine them, particularly repeat offenders.
This comes after the City imposed a 20 percent water restriction on residential and business water consumers.
Those who exceeded the restrictions will see their water bill increase by 20 percent on any amount of water used over the free 10 kilolitres; six kl for water and 4.2 kl for sanitation.
Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, says they are seeking full council approval for an updated set of admission-of-guilt fines.
“Current admission-of-guilt fines for contraventions of the City’s Water By-law, which were approved by the Chief Magistrate in 2012, are between R500 and R1 500. The amounts are based on the severity of the offence,” Sonnenberg said.
The Western Cape, along with the rest of South Africa, is suffering the worst drought in decades. Six dams serving Cape Town are collectively holding only 48.4 percent of their 898 221-kl capacity.
Sonnenberg said no fines had been issued in January as the City wanted to ensure consumers were aware of the restrictions.
Serial water-wasters have been reported to the City by their neighbours, with a detailed analysis of suburbs done to determine any above-normal consumption patterns, according to Sonnenberg.
“The analysis also highlights changes in consumption patterns over time for a particular property or for a suburb, region or city as a whole. In this way, properties with consistently high consumption can be identified for inspection,” said Sonnenberg.
Inspectors will monitor compliance and issue spot fines where applicable.
But ANC chief whip in the City of Cape Town, Xolani Sotashe, said the DA-controlled council was not “serious” and only targeted poor black areas for water restrictions while turning a blind eye to affluent mostly-white areas.
“This sanction is directed to our people and we will not allow that. We will revolt because… they have never discussed this thing in council,” said Sotashe.
While the ANC agreed that water should be conserved, the party said no “proper plan” had been presented on how this would be achieved.
Cape Town Greater Civic Alliance chairman Philip Bam said his organisation welcomed the City’s plan to enforce its water restrictions more strictly.
“We realise the importance of saving water and we all need to make our sacrifices in terms of how we use water. We want to encourage people to abide by the restrictions; there’s no reason why anybody should want to be fined… ’’ said Bam.
He said it was unlikely the winter rains would replenish the dams which supply Cape Town with water.
Bam said in addition to water restrictions and fines, the City could also lower the water pressure. “In our areas a lot of water is wasted through the stealing of copper pipes and taps, sometimes it might be half a day before someone realises the tap has been stolen and the water is gushing out.”
He said the City had to devise a system in which it could detect and fix water leaks across its network.
“On a copper pipe, if there’s a very fine crack, water will leak all the time,” said Bam.
Residents can report water- wasters on 0860 103 089.