Owen Tyeku, a senior artisan for the City of Cape Town, demonstrates how the water management device works.
Owen Tyeku, a senior artisan for the City of Cape Town, demonstrates how the water management device works.
Picture: Tanya Petersen
Picture: Tanya Petersen
THE City of Cape Town is doing a mass roll-out of the installation of water management devices, in order to restrict high water users in the city and stretch the city’s current water supply.

At a media briefing this week, mayor Patricia de Lille explained that the city is targeting the 55000 households and people who are defaulting on the stipulated daily allocation, through the installation of water management devices.

The devices are set to 350 litres per day, per property.

At a demonstration on the water management device earlier this week, Malungisa Pontia, head meter manager for the city, said the device will be installed for high users at a cost of R4500, while indigent users will have the installation done for free.

The plan, he said, is to install about 8000 of these devices each month.

He said it is set to 350 litres per a day and once that is used up, the water is cut off until the next day, when it resets. However, he explained that should the sum of the allocated water not be used, it will roll over to the next day. But, he explained that water is not rolled over to the new month, so users will only be charged for the water they used that month.

The most interesting aspect about the device is that all water usage information can be traced.

Pontia advised people not to tamper with the device as the water will be cut immediately and they could be issued with a R5 000 fine.

Farouk Robertson, communications officer for water and sanitation in the city, said smart meters are the way the city is headed - even if the dams are at full capacity.

He said that they want to ensure all residents do not revert to their previous water-wasting habits.

Meanwhile, at the media briefing, De Lille revealed the city’s three-phase plan to avoid “acute water shortages”.

Phase 1:

This has been activated with water rationing through extreme pressure reduction (throttling). This could result in certain areas experiencing temporary water supply disruptions. However, this will not result in a complete water shutdown. De Lille advised residents to store up to five litres, not more, of water for essential usage.

Phase 2:

This is a disaster stage. In this phase, the city will only be “keeping a certain portion of the system alive close enough to water collection points”. Residents will be allowed to collect a “predefined quantity” of water from collections sites.

Phase 3:

This is the extreme disaster phase. This is when the city is no longer able to extract water from its dams. “Non-surface drinking water supplies, sourced from groundwater abstraction from various aquifers and spring water, will be available for drinking purposes only,” said De Lille. This will be distributed by the city to residents at water distribution points.

Should residents not adhere to water restrictions or not do their part to cut down their water consumption to a collective usage of 500 million litres per day, De Lille said “Day Zero” could be as soon as March next year.

However, if everybody works together, the available dam water, which is currently at 27.6%, could be stretched to beyond March.