The City proposes to install no new water management device meters (WMDs), and that WMDs currently in service be replaced by the conventional meters with the latest metering technology. File picture
The City proposes to install no new water management device meters (WMDs), and that WMDs currently in service be replaced by the conventional meters with the latest metering technology. File picture

Last chance for Capetonians to comment on City’s water meter proposals

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Apr 29, 2021

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Cape Town - The City has reminded residents that there is less than a week left for comments on its budget proposal regarding a revised approach to domestic water metering as part of the comment period on the City of Cape Town’s draft Budget (2021/22).

To encourage customers to take responsibility for their water usage, the City proposes that from July 2021 it will install no more new water management device meters (WMDs), and that WMDs currently in service be replaced by conventional meters with the latest metering technology.

Comments on the proposals must be submitted by May 3.

Among the proposals is that water and sanitation will be provided at no charge, but water usage on the property may not be more than the water volume limit as set by Council.

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said: “As leaks on private plumbing will be counted by the meter as part of usage, property owners must act quickly to fix leaks.

“Households should check their monthly bills for any continuous spikes in monthly usage as a means to check for underground leaks, in particular. The City will still assist with once-off fixing of leaks on the indigent property where this has not been provided previously.”

Giving its reasons for the review of the metering approach, the City said: “Since WMDs were first used by the City about 15 years ago, they have played an important role in bringing water usage down to more sustainable levels, and helping residents be more conscious of how much water they use.

“We believe that we have reached a point where residents, as our partners in water management, are entrusted with keeping their water usage within reasonable levels. The City, however, will continue to monitor and take steps to prevent excessive use.”

The proposals regarding the management of water usage in indigent households has come under fire from Cape Town lobby group STOP COCT.

STOP COCT spokesperson Sandra Dickson said they were questioning the proposal aimed at indigent users who already get up to 10.5kl of free water.

“The ill-thought-through plan to remove the water WMDs is 15 years overdue and has very little substance to it.

“The City is mum on those households earning R7 000 upwards and battling to pay their water bills. No relief is on the cards for those who already have stringent repayment plans.

“The City still forces paying customers and pensioners into paying the water levies, which have increased by 5%.”

Dickson claimed that the City has been over-recovering on its set tariffs for almost a decade and, all the while, service delivery has taken a severe nosedive.

Activist Chris Willemse said: “The WMD’s have been a singular failure due to the number of product-related problems with the units themselves. Of course, the millions of rand wasted on a flawed scheme will be paid for by the ratepayers.

“It will be interesting to understand fully what the policy regarding indigent households holds for the future. Will these households have to pay for any water usage over the limit and how will these amounts be recovered? Or will it be a write-off, given that indigent households are assumed to be unable to pay for most services in the first instance?

“Clearly, the City has realised that it has shot itself in the foot by self-imposing limits on a commodity, as it sees it, not the right as the Constitution sees it, that it sells as a revenue stream,” Willemse said.

Cape Argus

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