Cape Town - At midnight on Wednesday, 31 January 2018, the extended comment window for the Water Amendment By-law was closed, with approximately 38 000 comments received from the public.
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The submissions will now be reviewed for constructive inputs, which will be considered for adjustments to the proposed By-law amendments. This process is expected to last approximately two months. The public will be kept informed of developments in this regard.
The amended City of Cape Town Water By-law went for a first public comment period in 2016.
However, due to Cape Town experiencing the worst drought in recorded history, and the City’s emphasis on proactive governance to better address water scarcity, it required further refinement.
This updated version was drafted last year (2017) and advertised for public comment in early December. The amended By-law was open for public comment for more than a month which is beyond the statutory comment period requirements.
The City thanked those members of the public who have familiarized themselves with the proposed amendments and engaged constructively with the content from an informed position.
Given that there has been a fair amount of misinformation being shared among residents on various social media platforms, the City would like to remind the public that the proposed amendments are necessary to reflect and support the needs of the New Normal in which we find ourselves.
These changes have not been proposed as a means to control or restrict what residents are doing to save water, but rather to put measures in place that support these interventions in a manner that protects public health, ensuring we are a more water efficient society going forward and that our built environment supports our broader efforts to live more sustainably.
The points below provide clarity on some of the popular misinterpretations of the content of the Water By-law:
'The By-law will force you to have plans for your Jojo tanks’
Where households have Jojo or any other kind of rainwater tank installed and are only using it for irrigation or outdoor use, then no approval or notification is necessary.
If rainwater , or any other form of alternative water is being plumbed into the building and there is a chance of it connecting with the municipal drinking water supply, then this needs to be approved by the City.
This requirement has been in place since 2010, and it is in the interest of ensuring that people install the system safely so that there is no possible contamination of the drinking water system which can impact on human health and the environment.
For more information, residents can visit http://cct.gov.za/bC2nV
The Water Amendment By-law is also proposing that all that new developments comprising multiple units, such as multi-tenant complexes, apartment blocks and commercial/industrial buildings (excluding free standing homes) must provide alternative water systems for uses like toilet flushing and laundry (not for drinking, cooking or ablution). Plans for alternative water systems should be submitted to the City as part of the building plans, as per the normal process.
‘My water saving efforts will be restricted’
To the contrary, the amended By-law expands on and encourages the use of alternative water which will assist with long-term household adaptation and will help to build a far more water resilient city. It simply strives to put in place measures that ensure that use of alternative water is done in a manner that protects both the health of residents and the reticulation network.
New buildings (with the exception of freestanding houses) have to make provision for alternative water use and/or water reuse systems to become more efficient, specifically as regards water for toilet flushing and laundry.
‘I will have to tell the City if I change my geyser’
This is not a new requirement. The existing Water By-law has always required notification for retrofits of geysers and associated protective devices. It has just been rephrased for clarity. Notification does not imply approval. The notification may be followed by a random compliance inspection in an effort to save water and ensure the safety of the inhabitants. Hence it is of critical importance that a qualified plumber does this type of work.
‘I will be forced to use a plumber registered with the City of Cape Town’
Residents are not forced to use a plumber who is registered with the City for general plumbing. The amendment proposes that plumbers need to be qualified in terms of the National Qualifications Framework.
The By-law proposes that plumbers who are qualified in terms of the National Qualifications Framework may register with the City and thus be placed on a list of registered and qualified plumbers from which residents can choose.
Only a plumber who carries this qualification will be able to sign off on the Certificate of Compliance necessary for the sale/transfer of ownership of a property, and to perform whichever work is necessary in order for the property’s plumbing to meet the relevant requirements.
‘I will be forced to accept the new WMDs and pay for them’
This is not a new requirement and it has been the City’s policy and practice for some time to systematically replace all existing residential water meters with water management device (WMD) meters.
This is done with a view to using newer technologies that strengthen the City’s ability to better manage our limited water supplies, curtail wasteful consumption, and assist residents in controlling the amount of water that enters their property. Replacement of existing meters forms part of the City’s meter replacement programme and is paid for by the City.
Only in cases where a WMD is installed in an effort to restrict excessive water use to non-indigent customers, or when one has been specifically requested by a resident whose existing meter is in good working order, will the property owner be required to cover the cost of the meter and its installation.
In the instance of excessive usage the meter will be set to limit the daily allocation.
We appeal to residents to familiarize themselves with the factual content of the proposed amendments and communicate from an informed position rather than perpetuating misleading information.