Water restrictions and the associated tariffs will be relaxed at the end of September. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Residents in Cape Town will have some relief at the end of the month because their municipal bills will not only be lower, but they may be able to shower for a little longer too. 

The City is reducing water restrictions and it’s water tariffs for the first time in two years.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson announced that water restrictions and the associated tariffs are to be “conservatively lowered” in the interim to Level 5 from October 1.

“Cape Town’s dam levels are nearing 70% of storage capacity due to good rainfall at the beginning of winter and the phenomenal conservation efforts of Capetonians,” he said.

This will bring tariff relief of between 26.6% and 70% per kilolitre of water depending on usage and tariff category.

Savings

Residential tariff savings per kilolitre (excluding VAT) are:
0 – 6kL: down 26.6% from R28.90/kL to R21.19/k
6 – 10.5kL: down 25% from R46/kL to R34.43/kL
10 – 35 kL: down 56% from R120.27/kL to R52.39/kL
More than 35kL: down 70% from R1 000/kL to R300/kL

Neilson said the water usage target will be increased from 50 litres to 70 litres per person per day and the daily collective consumption target will increase by 50 million litres to 500 million litres to ensure that water conservation efforts remain in place.

Deputy mayor Ian Neilson. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

“The Western Cape Water Supply System’s dams are now at 68% capacity, a very significant improvement on the situation at the end of the previous winter, when they were at 38% capacity. This was during a drought so uncommon that it only has an estimated return period of 311 years,” he said.

In 2016 and late 2017, the drought was at its worst and necessitated the implementation of Level 6B water restrictions in February 2018. 

“The enormously positive response from Capetonians when called upon to reduce water usage, as well as advanced pressure and water management programmes by the City, saved the day and Cape Town avoided the worst-case scenario. 

"Once dam capacity again exceeded 50% at the beginning of July 2018, the City called for a discussion with the National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) around the relaxation of restrictions. Since then, two meetings have been held with the other large users in the system, both urban and agricultural, and the DWS. Agreement was reached among the users for a gradual reduction in the overall restrictions, including reducing the urban usage restriction from 45% to 40% of what it would normally be allocated,” he said. 

Nielson said the moderate proposals for relief were based on a hydrological risk assessment.

“Of course, the amended Level 5 restriction guidelines for water usage will apply and we are confident that the significant behavioural change that we’ve seen pertaining to water conservation will prevail to a large extent,” he said.

Significant rainfall has boosted the Theewaterskloof Dam. Dams supplying the City of Cape Town have nearly reached 70% capacity. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

For commercial users there would also be some relief as tariffs are down 18% from R45.75/kL to R37.50/kL.

Level 5 Restrictions

Level 5 restrictions means that the personal water use limit from 50 litres per person is now 70 litres per person per day; the overall city water usage target would be reset from 450 million litres per day to 500 million litres per day; there would also be a relaxation of the reduction targets for commercial and industrial water users from 45% to 40%.

Stop COCT founder Sandra Dickson said the lowering of tariffs will be a relief for cash-strapped consumers.

“This was our goal. We wanted the punitive charges lowered as the water restrictions itself. We will continue to fight for residents of Cape Town to ensure affordable rates and taxes,” she said.

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Cape Argus