File picture: Independent Media

Cape Town – The City of Cape Town Council on Thursday, implemented tougher water restrictions and warned that it was coming after the city’s 20 000 highest water users as part of a crackdown.

The City’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services and energy, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, said that council had approved the implementation of tougher water restrictions from February 1, among which was the use of potable water for non-essential use being further restricted.

The Level 3B restrictions has been implemented as a result of the “severe drought that is being experienced and the repeated failure to reach the intended water savings target of 800 million litres of collective water use per day”.

The City said in a statement that as at 23 January 2017, the average consumption was 80 million litres above this target and dam levels had dropped to 40.4 percent.

“It must be borne in mind that it is very difficult to extract the remaining 10 percent of a dam’s capacity.”

According to the City, the National Department of Water and Sanitation, in its statement from January 6, had pointed out that the South African Weather Service had predicted a reduced likelihood of chances of above normal rainfall country-wide between January and April 2017.

The service had implied a dam level recovery rate of beyond three years which meant that unless there was a rapid and significant change to rainfall patterns, there was still a long road to recovery and the possibility of yet another “not-so-wet” winter.

“The City must therefore urgently further intensify the current restriction measures by introducing Level 3B restrictions. The approval of the 3B fine schedule by the Magistrate’s Court is expected to be in place shortly. A higher amount for spot fines of R5 000 has been proposed as part of the fine schedule.”

According to the City, Level 3B restrictions sees watering or irrigation of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces only if using a bucket or watering can, but now only on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 9am or after 6pm for a maximum of one hour per day per property. Previously days were not specified and water times were not restricted.

Under Level 3 restrictions, no watering or irrigation had been allowed within 24 hours of rainfall, but with level 3B this has now been extended to 48 hours. As before, boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well-points are not exempt from this restriction.

And from washing vehicles using potable water but only if using a bucket, there will now be no washing of vehicles or boats at all unless using non-potable water or washing at a commercial carwash.

The restrictions furthermore does not allow for irrigation using potable water at City facilities and there will also be no increase of the indigent water allocation over and above the free 350 litres a day.

“Regular enforcement blitzes will remain in place and we are also getting ready to target the highest 20,000 water users in the metro. We will imminently advise them of punitive measures that might be taken, such as fines for transgressions or the installation of water restriction devices if they do not reduce their usage by 20 percent,” the City said.

“The majority of these high users are households in formal residential areas and have been identified as consuming 50 kilolitres per month. Prior to the water restrictions coming into effect, the average use per household used to be well under 1,000 litres per day or below about 30 kilolitres per month.

African News Agency