Water meters – use more pay more

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
08 November 2009

It’s interesting to note that in South Africa, where we have been on water metered systems for years and have a tiered consumption system of ‘use more pay more’, that in America there are still areas that have no water meters at all. Residents in these areas pay for their usage on a flat rate system.

In June this year the city council of Woodland USA (part of California where there has been a severe drought) voted to increase the tariff of water supply in a series of 4 increases over the next 3 years. This move has now enabled the council to install water meters to a remaining 10000 households, and ultimately convert these residents to a tiered based system. According to Woodland city council, water meters can reduce consumption by up to 25 percent.

Remaining in California, this time in Kern County where it is estimated that about 75% of water is used for irrigation, one area alone was responsible for water consumption averaging 1700 litres of water per person per day – three times the average for the state. While certain areas are already on a metered three-tier system, many thousands are still on a flat rate and water suppliers are pushing hard to install meters – let alone a system of usage management.

In South Africa consumers that rely solely on municipal water use approximately 240 litres of water per person per day. In Cape Town residents who are registered on the indigency database receive 350 litres per drought-pixday free, and what is not used is carried over for the next day. Top end users of water, however, can expect to pay R18.85 per kilolitre in excess of 50kl in the month. Compare this to the average 4 person home where the typical usage for the month would be around 30kl. In this instance the top end tier (20 and 40 kl per month) is R11.57 per kl – R7.28 cheaper per kl.

With increased water shortages expected for South Africa, and in particular the Western Cape,  these rates will naturally continue to climb, and top end users can expect to pay heavily for their future consumption.

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