#EveryDropCounts: 55% tariff increase on the cards for waterwise residents
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In a shock admission, the City said a 55.16% water tariff increase was on the cards for consumers who used the least water.
The admission, by Xanthea Limberg, mayco member for water and sanitation, comes amid top officials punting the initial 26.9% increase, but closer examination of the City’s tariffs indicates otherwise.
Mayor Patricia de Lille and mayco member for finance Johan van der Merwe both quoted the proposed 26.9% figure, but the City’s own documents show that this percentage increase only applies to the use of non-potable water.
Non-potable water is raw water that is untreated, such as from lakes, rivers, groundwater, natural springs and ground wells. Such water is not considered potable or safe to drink unless it has passed stringent testing. Potable water is treated tap water safe for consumption.
According to the City’s Draft Tariff, Fees and Charges Book domestic (household) non-indigent consumers will be paying 55.16% more if they use between zero and 6 kilolitres of water a month. This increase does not apply to indigent (poorer) households.
Limberg said: “Only the first step (zero to 6kl) of the tabled domestic non-indigent tariff is increasing by 55.16%. In other words, the first 6kl used during the month will cost 55.16% more.
"The second step of the tariff (the next 4.5kl used during the month) is increasing by a much lower percentage of 6.2%. It is also proposed that steps (water use classifications) three and four, and steps five and six, are combined, thereby reducing the number of tariff steps from six to four.”
Although the charges book mentions the 26.9% increase, it is under the heading “infrastructure provided by council” and applies to the use of non-potable water for domestic and commercial users, schools, departments and golf clubs.
But almost all of Cape Town’s water users are domestic or home users.
Calculations indicate that in the 2017/16 financial year the tariff excluding VAT was R25.26. In 2018/19 the proposed tariff excluding VAT is R40.73 - a R14.48 increase.
Limberg said the drought and uncertainty around future weather patterns had presented new challenges.
“Proposed tariff changes are aimed at securing the resources necessary to overcome these challenges. The City has drastically re-prioritised existing funds to try to minimise how much of this burden is passed on to residents, but there is a limit to what can be achieved with existing resources and tariffs.
"Work to increase water security, although costly, will serve to protect the City against future droughts, and minimise to what extent the City will need to implement water restrictions and accompanying tariff level increases in future,” she said.
Sandra Dickson, founder of the Stop COCT group, said residents were duped into thinking they would only be paying a 26.9% increase.
“There is nothing credible about this budget. We have written so many letters to the City about this budget, that simply had no credibility from the beginning.
"I don’t understand how they could go ahead with this budget and present it to Cape Town residents. There was the issue with the salary increases for the City’s top staff. That came out to be a mistake.
“But I don’t believe that. Look at how they cleverly placed this water increase under the carpet. We know that water users cannot drink non-potable water. And that is the City for you,” she said.
Tony Ehrenreich, Cosatu regional secretary, was shocked when he heard of the massive increase.
“This is completely out of control. We cannot allow a municipality to increase the price of water like this. We will be calling on the national government to intervene because we cannot allow this. All Capetonians will feel the pinch of this,” he said.@JasonFelix