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City relaxes water restrictions and tariffs

The City of Cape Town has made the move to relax current water restrictions from Level 6B to Level 5 from 1 October, Deputy Mayor Ian Neilson announced.

After suffering from the worst drought in recent history, Cape Town’s dams are nearing 70% of storage capacity – a significant improvement from the 38% capacity recorded at the end of the previous winter.

“The very low supply storage resulted in the imposition of Level 6B water restrictions in February 2018,” Neilson said.

“The enormously positive response from Capetonians, when called on to reduce water usage as well as advanced pressure and water management programmes by the City, saved the day, and Cape Town avoided the worst-case scenario.”


Water crisis

The key elements of Level 5 restrictions are as follows:

. An increase in the personal water use limit from 50 litres per person per day to 70 litres per person per day.

. A resetting of the overall City water usage target from 450 million litres per day to 500 million litres per day.

. A relaxation of restrictions for commercial and industrial water users from a 45% to a 40% usage reduction

. A lowering of tariffs

Residential tariffs (excluding VAT)

0-6 kL: Down from R28,90/kL to R21,19 kL

6-10,5 kL: Down from R46/kL to R34,43/kL

10-35 kL: Down from R120,27 to R52,39/kL

Above 34 kL: Down from R1 000/kL to R300/kL

Commercial and industrial tariffs

Down from R45,75/kL to R37,50/kL

Executive Director of Informal Settlements, Water and Sanitation Gisela Kaiser clarified that the City was not encouraging Capetonians to increase their water usage.

“At Level 6B, our overall target was 450 million litres a day – we never reached it. We are now at around 500 million litres a day,” she said. “The ideal situation is to stay at 500 million litres, which is still our target under Level 5.

“We are not encouraging people to use more, but with the 500 million litres comes a different target. People are already using more than 50 litres per day, we are just charging the right price now to come in overall at 500 million litres per day.”

Once dam capacity exceeded 50% at the end of July 2018, the City discussed the relaxation of restrictions with the National Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

Following two meetings with other large users in the system and DWS, Neilson said that an agreement was reached for a gradual reduction in the overall restrictions.

Says Neilson: “The relaxation of restrictions is a moderate proposal that is based on hydrological risk assessment that indicates that it is safe to do so at the level of risk that is agreed on,” Neilson said.

“Of course, the amended Level 5 restriction guidelines for water usage will apply, and we are confident that the significant behavioural change that we’ve seen pertaining to water conservation will prevail to a large extent.”

Reassessing future adjustments will be made once the DWS makes a ruling on the new hydrological year or advises on an interim relaxation.

Neilson noted that while DWS undertook to respond to the proposal by 31 August, it has yet to do so. He says it appears the DWS is reluctant to make any adjustment before the end of the hydrological year, the end of October 2018.

“We would have preferred to get a response, but we have not received a response,” Neilson explained.

“We just have to come to a conclusion that they are unable, in the decision-making process, to come to a quick conclusion on this. On the other hand, we saw no purpose in continuing with the Level 6B restrictions because there is enough water in the dams.”

Neilson added that the City had planned on implementing the lower water restrictions on 1 September, but were unable to do so, as it was awaiting a response from the DWS.

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