The City of Cape Town has identified the residential areas where water is being guzzled despite the crippling drought which has seen dam levels plummet in the Western Cape.

The city this week announced stepped-up water restrictions. It says about 20000 residents are guilty of excessive water consumption.

Yesterday it was revealed that the areas where the consumers of the most water live include the green belt of Newlands and Constantia as well as neighbouring suburbs Athlone, Newfields, Rylands and Lansdowne.

In the northern suburbs, more big consumers are to be found in Kraaifontein, while further afield verdant Somerset West is another water-guzzling area.

According to Xanthea Limberg, the city’s mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and water services and energy, the 20000 greediest water consumers have been responsible for approximately 65% of the water used in the metropole.

Limberg said prior to Level 3b water restrictions coming into effect, the average use per household was well under 1000 litres per day and less than 30 kilolitres per month

But the high-users consumed about 50kilolitres of water per month.

At a city council meeting on Thursday, Mayor Patricia de Lille stressed water restrictions were not about money but rather about getting everybody to acknowledge the seriousness and importance of the situation.

“Because of your abuse, we will all suffer. Saving water is not optional.

“We all have to save water now to ensure that we have water over the long term,” De Lille said.

Excessive water consumption has contributed to an additional R254million the city has derived from water sales but the city said it could not use this revenue to buy water and some residents urgently needed to change their behaviour.

A campaign to “engage” these top water consumers to persuade them to use far less water is to begin this weekend.

If this approach fails the city intends looking at other options including limiting water usage and installing water meter devices.

“The culprits are in the affluent areas.

“They own big properties, swimming pools and have big grass lawns,” ANC spokesperson Xolani Sotashe charged.

Sotashe said township residents “should not be used as the scapegoat” as their water consumption was being monitored through water meter devices and if there was any water wastage in townships, this was largely because there were broken and ageing municipal water pipes.

Despite downpours in the Western Cape yesterday, dam levels remain critically low – at about 40%. The city is adamant it does not expect to run out of water before the rainy season later this year, but has warned that according to its pro- jections dam levels might drop to as low as 20% by the start of winter if the current rates of water consumption continued.

This would mean a low level margin of safety, only some 10%, as it was difficult to extract the last 10% of water in a dam.

“Constant water usage above the target of 800million litres per day of collective use, as has been the case, is not sustainable,” Limberg warned.

She said evaporation in hot conditions had contributed to the declining levels of water in the dams.

“Residents must work with us and many have. We are grateful for their support and of going above and beyond the call of duty.”

Weekend Argus