Drought-hit Cape Town scraps free water for all

29 March 2017 - 15:37 By Aphiwe Deklerk

Capetonians will have to dig deeper into their pockets after July if plans to scrap the free-water-for-all policy are passed.

The city wants to impose a 19.25% tariff hike for both water and sanitation‚ according to its draft budget for the 2017/18 financial year tabled at a full council meeting on Wednesday.

The move comes as the city tries to deal with the severe drought.

At present the city gives a monthly 6kl of free water to all households. After July‚ only people with houses worth R400 000 and less will get free water.

The budget also proposes to discontinue its 4.2kl free sanitation service to properties worth more than R400 000.

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Even though the city has imposed restrictions‚ this has not stopped Capetonians from overusing water.

In her opening speech to the council‚ Mayor Patricia de Lille said usable water in city dams was at only 17.3%.

Mayco member for finance Johan van der Merwe said the drought was a major factor the city had to consider when putting together this year's budget.

He said the tariff increase would mainly be felt by residents who failed to comply with the city’s water restrictions.

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“Only those who are using in excess of 50kl will see an increase of 19.25% in July‚ if the proposed rates are approved in May‚” said Van der Merwe.

He said the proposed increase was to cover investment in projects to ensure water security.

De Lille said the city was considering the construction of emergency water-supply schemes which included the drilling of boreholes into the Table Mountain Group aquifer‚ which could yield 2-million litres a day.

Other projects included a small-scale desalination package plant and intensifying the city’s “pressure management and water demand management programmes to further reduce water demand”.

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“In the event there is another winter of below-average rainfall‚ the city will be expanding and accelerating the abovementioned emergency schemes even further‚” said De Lille.

She said the projects would cost the city R315-million over three years.

“I have given an instruction that we simply must do everything we can to start implementing these new schemes in the current financial year and find the budget to do so in order to augment our water supplies as soon as possible‚” she said.

De Lille said the city found itself in a crisis that was not going away.

“So we simply have to look at several ways to augment our water supplies‚ such as treating wastewater for drinking purposes‚” the mayor said.