Water By-law clarified by City

Posted by: Saving Water SA (Cape Town, South Africa) – partnered with Water Rhapsody conservation systems – 26 July 2011

It is imperative that renovations comply to the Water By-law

Aspects of the updated City of Cape Town Water By-law has raised some queries amongst residents.

With the ever changing weather patterns associated with climate change, Cape Town remains a water scarce region and the City has a responsibility to ensure its water resources are managed effectively, efficiently, affordably and sustainably. Thus, the City is continually looking for ways to improve and enhance water and wastewater management and service delivery to ensure the availability and reliability of its water resources.

All consumers in water scarce areas should be empowered to save water and reduce their water losses/wastage. The City does this in a combination of different ways:- by providing information through various channels (media, bills, community engagement etc.); by utilising legislation (By-laws, policies) to guide or impose certain limitations; and by direct engagement with water users across the city.

There are some 620 000 domestic water connection points in the city. An ideal situation would be that every one of these premises are visited and inspected to indentify and eliminate water leaks and the discharge of stormwater into the sewers. However, the City does not have the resources to do this for every property.

The Water By-law was updated through a fair and open process, which included public participation. During one of these sessions a member of the public recommended that premises be inspected on transfer of ownership for water wastage. This was very well received as, in the long term, this process will help the City to reach all properties and this is why it was incorporated into the Water By-law.

The requirement that a certificate of compliance needs to be provided by the seller is a great benefit to the buyer as they will have peace of mind that their new home/business/office will be leak free and also free from stormwater to sewer discharges, thus helping them to effectively manage their own water use.

Questions have been raised as to why this certificate of compliance is still required when transfer of ownership is from two owners to one, as in the case for example of a divorce?

“The reason why, is that the property may have had several renovations or changes made to it since the original purchase date and, even if the property will be remaining within the family, it is imperative to ensure that this work complies to the new Water By-law requirements,” explained Councillor Shehaam Sims, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services.

“The ‘trigger’ for the certificate of compliance is the passage of transfer through the Deeds Office and all premises, whether domestic, commercial or industrial, now require a certificate of compliance inspection. In these cases any costs incurred to achieve water compliance should be offset over a relatively short period and the transferee, as well as saving water, will also have peace of mind that the property is water compliant,” Sims added.

Any retrofitting or renovation work involving water fittings must be undertaken by a qualified and registered plumber and in compliance with the new Water By-law.

A copy of the by-law (By-law Water 2010) can be found on the City’s website http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/Services/Pages/default.aspx
under By-laws.

Over time therefore, when properties are sold, obtaining a certificate of compliance for water installations will become standard practice.

Source:  City of  Cape Town

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