The City of Cape Town is urging residents to check their meters for leaks if their water bills seem too high.
In a statement released on Monday, deputy mayor Ian Neilson said average citywide water use for the past week was 510 million litres a day.
He advised residents to check for underground leaks on their properties as these were often to blame for accounts being higher than usual.
“We have noticed reports of customers who have been receiving significantly higher accounts than what they may be used to.
“We will investigate any account query sent to us on its merits and advise the complainant(s) accordingly of the outcome.
“However, the reason for some significantly higher bills is likely due to underground leaks. These are the responsibility of private property owners to fix.”
He said customers could apply to the City for a rebate if there were mitigating circumstances.
“We have enhanced our programme of fixing leaks for our low-income residents,” he said.
Residents could be assured there were no faults with the City’s billing system, he said.
Referring to tariff increases, he said, “It is reasonable to assume that under the low tariffs of, say, a year ago, if one had a substantial underground leak, the cost for that water loss would be substantially lower than what one would pay for the same water loss under the Level 6 tariffs of this year.”
He said some underground leaks were easy to detect while others required an expert leak detection professional or plumber.
Residents should do weekly meter readings to monitor water consumption and detect anomalies, he said.
“In cases where water meters cannot be read due to reasons such as the inaccessibility of the meter, water usage is based on previous water meter readings,” he said.
National government would need to relax restrictions on water released from dams, he said, before the City could consider easing restrictions and tariffs.
“The City has asked the national Department of Water and Sanitation to have a risk-based discussion on when and how water restriction levels are to be managed. This request is based on a comprehensive overview of the water situation, water behaviour and prevailing economic conditions in Cape Town.
“We have not proposed an abandonment of restrictions. We anticipate that some level of restrictions will need to remain even if the dams were to fill up completely,” he said.
Last month Peerless Park pensioner Nosipho Makapala, told how she had been left high and dry with water bills of up to R13 000 (“Water user bled dry,” Northern News, June 13.)
In that same article, Greater Cape Town Civic Alliance spokesman Philip Bam said consumers should verify the readings reflected on their account with the reading on their meters.
“There is a requirement under case law for municipalities to submit accurate meter readings.
“It is the municipality’s responsibility to prove the readings are correct. It is not the consumer’s responsibility to do the municipality’s job,” said Mr Bam. If a customer’s meter is inaccessible, the customer can submit his or her meter reading by using the e-Services facility on the City’s website or by phoning the reading in by calling 0860 103 089.
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