Some Woodstock residents are collecting water coming from the Woodstock Quarter construction site. Some of them say they use the water for washing. The City is to introduce Level 6b water restrictions on February 1 as Day Zero is approaching fast. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA

Cape Town - Cape Town residents have given mayor Patricia de Lille a resounding no to her proposed drought levy labelling it punitive, unfair and overtaxing.
The City received 66000 comments on the drought levy, but just 36444 were categorised, while the rest weren’t used.

Just more than 34% of residents commented that it was unfair and punitive, 21.9% said the drought was due to bad planning and 14.57% said they were overtaxed.

De Lille backtracked on the drought levy on Thursday, announcing that the council was likely to scrap the idea after a massive public outcry.

Residents were also opposed to the methodology using the property values as a yardstick to determine the drought charge as opposed to water consumption.

Consumers also expressed concern at the City ignoring warning signs and not taking proactive steps.

Bad planning, a tax burden on especially the middle class and elderly pensioners were all cited as reasons against the levy.

Ratepayers said the national government should step in, that a minimum flat rate should be introduced, residents with water tanks should be subsidised and that the City should pay closer attention to the management and reduction of non-revenue water.

Instead of going ahead with a drought charge, the City was set to introduce a new punitive tariff for households using 6000 litres of water or more per month.

“We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them. We have listened to the comments of thousands of residents asking for fairness. Council will (today) be voting on a punitive tariff that will see exponentially higher rates for water for residents using more than 6000 litres a month,” De Lille said.

Residents using more than 6000 litres, currently paying R28.44, could pay R145.98 extra. It was set to be implemented on February 1 along with the level 6B restrictions.

De Lille said she would personally fight to ensure the proposed punitive tariff exempted those using less than 6000 litres a month. “The proposed drought charge is likely to be dropped after a massive outcry from Capetonians. We are now going to have to make deep cuts to important projects,” she said.

ANC Cape Metro leader Xolani Sotashe said they have not seen the punitive tariff but would oppose any unfair charges. “Let’s give them a listen, but we are not going to allow them to further burden ratepayers.”

ACDP councillor Grant Haskin said the drought levy had been dropped for a different punitive charge. “It’s the same new tax, so we will oppose it.”

Philip Bam, Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance chairperson, said the City had not taken responsibility for the crisis and lack of alternative water supply in an area known for drought.

Cape Argus