A new by-law will allow the City to install water management devices or prepayment meters on your property without your consent. File Picture.
Cape Town - A new by-law will allow the City to install water management devices or prepayment meters on your property without your consent. The City said it is part of their ongoing efforts to tackle the drought, but the by-law has unleashed a torrent of objections, which the City apparently ignored.

The new by-law provides for ratepayers to set their domestic daily water supply at a predetermined volume.

The law reads: “Where a water management device or prepayment meter has been installed at any premises, a consumer may request to enter into an agreement with the City in terms of the City’s Credit Control and Debt Collection Policy and it’s Credit Control and Debt Collection By-law, 2006, to set the (drinking) domestic water supply to their premises to a predetermined daily volume.”

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ACDP councillor Grant Haskin said there are fears that this provision can be abused.

“Given the City’s track record, evidenced by the numerous (thousands of) complaints from ratepayers of WMDs being installed without notice, without their permission, with the intimidating presence of City Law Enforcement officers and contrary to the City’s own published processes in this regard, we fear that the City can now install these devices on all private properties.”

According to the new by-law, a property owner is responsible for ensuring compliance with this by-law in respect of wastage and/or abuse of water; the person in charge of developments with separate private sub-meters must monitor and record the monthly usage of each individual unit. We accept that it’s important to increase the responsibilities of the property owner/manager, particularly given our water crisis and all new developments must provide for the installation of water conservation and demand management systems or alternative water systems for non-domestic purposes, and full details thereof must accompany the building plans.

ANC councillor Danile Khatshwa said the ANC did not support the by-law, as it did not consider the comments of residents. “There were about 38000 comments during this period. Most of these comments received were negative and people expressing their frustrations with the City and the water crisis. None of it was considered.”

Carl Punt, DA ward councillor for the Strand area said: “This will ensure that all of us have enough water and that it is being used wisely. We had massive growth over the last few years and this by-law will give all of us the right guidelines to use our water.”

Meanwhile, the thousands of comments by Cape Town residents on the budget and the high water tariff increases were also released.

Kristina Davidson, chairperson of the Wynberg Residents and Ratepayers Association said in her submission: “The public-participation process was a farce.

“The budget is approximately 1800 pages long, contains errors and is not easily understood by residents.”

The Table View Ratepayers Association said: “The public participation process is flawed as the City of Cape Town has admitted in writing that their databases are not up to date and left under the various sub-council’s control with zero oversight from the CoCT.”

Observatory Civic Association said they believed it was a flawed process in that it violates the concept of public participatory co-design from the onset.

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“It forwards a top-down system using public participation.”

Ratepayer Siviwe Jack said residents must be consulted in decision-making for our community, while resident Jozeen Stevens said: “How is the average man supposed to afford this?

“I fully object to this and will take it to the streets if we have to.”

Ratepayer Michaela Thiessen said: “This is utter madness nearly had heart failure having received my municipal account with an attachment that has the new tariff structures that are going to be forced on us.

“It is clear to me that despite our efforts to make our voices heard, the City of Cape Town is ignoring the public.”

Another resident Mark Daniels said the residents of Cape Town are being asked to pay these exorbitant increases due to poor planning and management by the City.

“This is the city that claims (to work for you). If these increases are approved, I am certain that the DA will pay the price in the next election.”

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Cape Argus