Deputy mayor Ian Neilson Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Dam levels are up, water usage is much lower but tariffs will remain the same, according to the City of Cape Town.

The City said the high tariffs, currently at R33.24 for the first 6 000 litres, were a result of water restrictions imposed by the National Department of Water and Sanitation.

But the department said tariffs were the responsibility of local government and the two were not linked.

Dam levels rose above 65% after the late winter rainfall and consumption for the past week was 535 million litres a day, the City said.

Cape Town was required to reduce usage by 45% of what it would normally be allocated. This is also how the City’s target of reaching 50 litres per person per day was calculated

Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said: “Tariffs are the responsibility of local government; whether or not restrictions are on does not matter because the two are not necessarily interlinked.”

He added that, for now, restrictions would remain in place until dam levels reached 85%.

“While the recent rains will bring some stability to the dams, the drought conditions still persist, and there is still a need to continue water conservation initiatives,” Ratau said.

Meanwhile, dearcapetown.co.za started an online campaign asking the public how they felt about the current tariffs, receiving close to 8 000 comments expressing mostly frustration with how high they were.

One comment read: “This morning on Smile radio the deputy mayor congratulated Capetonians for the wonderful way they worked together to save water - hell yes, we are law-abiding citizens, we got tanks, boreholes, buckets and whatnot to save water but instead of giving us incentives for saving water they punish us with pipe levies. Shame on you. The City of Cape Town just doesn’t work for us.”

Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson said he understood the frustration of residents, but tariffs could not be lowered.

“The City understands the frustration of residents and has motivated for a relaxation of restrictions. Tariffs can only be lowered as restrictions are relaxed and water sales increase.”

He said the City was still waiting for a response from the Department to relax restrictions and that “tariffs will be progressively lowered as water restrictions are relaxed”.

“The rainfall over the past few weeks, combined with continued saving efforts by the vast majority of residents, has seen dams fill to levels the City hasn’t seen in years. 

"We have managed to steer ourselves away from disaster, but must now start considering how best to manage our recovery going forward,” said Nielson.

Sandra Dickson from dearcapetown.co.za said people were angry.

“People are absolutely angry, they feel they are being done in and being impoverished. The tariffs are expensive. Savings are down but tariffs remain so high, it is unfair. 

"The City is lying to us saying the department is the reason for high tariffs, but their restrictions and tariffs are not connected.

“I sit with pensioners day in and day out who cannot afford their water bills.”

Dearcapetown.co.za plan on submitting their comments to the City in two weeks time.

Residents can submit comments at https://www.dearcapetown.co.za/6btariff/