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Water Tariff to increase 5-fold

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems
08 February 2010

Buffalo City residents stand to pay thousands of Rands a month more in punitive water tariffs as the city’s dam supplies dry up, according to the BCM.

The new tariffs came into effect at the beginning of the month. According to estimates given by the municipality on its website, a family of four could end up paying nearly R4000 a month if using 65 kilolitres of water.

The city’s major water supply dam, the Bridle Drift Dam, is less than 40 percent full, and the BCM said it was introducing heavy new, punitive tariffs in a bid to cut down on domestic consumption.

A memorandum from the Director of Engineering Services to the acting Chief Financial Officer, dated January 21 and of which the Dispatch has a copy, highlights the new tariffs that came into effect on February 1.

The memo, however, also says that in addition to the normal tariffs, those who used more than 21kl of water a month would be charged punitive tariffs of five times the normal tariff.

Rand per kilolitre Kilolitres used Punitive Tariff
R5.16 0 to 6
R5.26 7 to 10
R7.30 11 to 20
R9.47 21 to 30 R47.37
R11.89 Over 31 R59.45

With the punitive tariff included, a household would pay R47.37/kl if using between 21 and 30kl of water, and R59.45/kl for more than 31kl.

According to the Buffalo City Municipality’s website a family of four living in a three-bedroom house with “several bathrooms”, a pool and a garden would probably use around 60000 to 65000 litres a month. In terms of the punitive charges, this would result in a bill of between R3657 and R3865.

A family of four living in a four-roomed house with one bathroom is likely to use between 30kl and 35kl litres a month. If the punitive tariffs are applied, their bill could top R2080.

Speaking to the Dispatch yesterday, Director of Engineering Services Nceba Ncunyana confirmed the tariffs charged as of February 1. He also said it was a precautionary measure to limit water usage to ensure the city did not run out of water.

Ncunyana said the average household in BCM used between six and 10 kilolitres of water per month, equating to a bill of between R30.96 and R51.60. “It (punitive tariffs) is not to punish people, but to limit the over-usage of water because the Bridle Drift Dam … which supplies water to Buffalo City has dropped to below 40 percent due to the scarcity of rain,” he said.

Residents, who claimed not to have been informed of the punitive tariffs, said BCM should have focused on educating the public on the water shortage and saving instead of introducing the tariffs.

When you wash your dishes you use about 30 litres of water to fill your kitchen sink. With 6000 litres you can fill the sink 200 times a month — around seven sinks full of water a day. Each time you run a bath, you use 100 to 200 litres of water. With 6000 litres you can bath 40 times a month.

Proportional representative (PR) councillor Annette Rademeyer questioned the implementation of the new penalty tariff system without BCM making water restrictions and warning the residents in time.

“I know that the dam levels are low all over, but as far as I know, you normally start with water restrictions and if they don’t work then you consider using the punitive tariff system,” she said. “You can’t just impose a new punitive tariff system on people without even notifying them.” Rademeyer said as far as she knew, there has not been any notification from BCM warning residents.

Another PR councillor, Jerome Mdyolo, said that the municipality did not hold public participation meetings and claims that the municipality was taking advantage of residents’ lack of knowledge. “People are going to be shocked when they see their bills at the end of the month,” said Mdyolo

Port St Johns residents have been forced to live without water for three days as the municipality battles with faulty pipes.

Some townships and villages on the outskirts of the town, known for attracting international movie makers, have not seen a drop of water coming from their taps – in some areas for up to nine days now.

Source: Dispatch Online

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