Screws tighten on water wasters

Council is set to tighten water restrictions at a special sitting today, Thursday January 26, as residents failed to meet key water-saving targets and the province’s dams dropped below 40 percent this week.

Last week, the mayoral committee recommended that council take the restrictions up a notch, from Level 3 to Level 3B.

The City says it has tried to keep water usage at 800 million litres a day, but residents are using 80 million litres in excess of that.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services, and energy, said many residents had done everything possible to save water but that wasn’t true for everyone.

“We will continue to take action against these culprits and will target the city’s top 20 000 high water users – the majority of whom reside in formal areas of the metro.”

She added: “We are committed to bringing this group to book. They are scuppering all of our efforts to bring down water usage.”

The City planned to do more door-to-door visits, issue more fines, where applicable, and focus strongly on education and awareness in an effort to reduce water usage across the metro.

If approved, the level 3B restrictions will mean:

* Watering/irrigation (with municipal drinking water) of flower beds, lawns, vegetables and other plants, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 9am or after 6pm for a maximum of one hour a day a property and only if using a bucket or watering can.

* No use of hosepipes or any sprinkler systems.

* No watering/irrigation is allowed within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation.

* No washing of vehicles or boats using municipal drinking water is allowed. Vehicles and boats must be washed with non-potable water or at a commercial carwash.

A message was doing the rounds on social media over the weekend claiming that water cuts would be on the cards for Sunday January 22, but the City quickly moved to dismiss it as a hoax. Ms Limberg said the City was trying to determine the source of the message.

“It must be noted that we regard such hoax statements on social media in the same manner that we view prank phone calls to our emergency numbers. If the source is found, we will see if there is any action that we are mandated to take. Such posts lead to a complete waste of the City’s resources,” she said.

At a Sub-council 3 meeting on Thursday January 19, chairwoman Helen Carstens said people were still not saving enough despite reminders about water consumption.

“We can only save water if members of the public help us to do so,” she said, thanking those who were saving.

“As with all things, it’s what we do individually that contributes to the whole,” she said.

Sub-council 7 chairman Gerhard Fourie said dams were at their lowest levels in years.

“All efforts must be made to protect what we currently have and manage it well,” he said, urging people not to delay reporting leaks and to only use grey water and collected rain water for their gardens.

Asked how the City was raising awareness of water restrictions in informal settlements, Ms Limberg said: “The City has increased the staff complement in the water inspectorate by 20 and has been running an intensive awareness campaign through radio advertisements, billboards, weekly media releases, social media, inserts in the rates bills of residents, and through visits to car washes and nurseries throughout the city.”

Kenridge The Hills Ratepayers’ Association’s (KHRPA) water and sanitation portfolio member Daniel Reynecke believes most residents know how grave the situation is and that tougher restrictions will help.

“We have been fortunate in the last 10 years or so not to have any droughts, but our dams are running low and could face a situation where we run out of water,” he said.

Ward 70 councillor Andrea Crous said most residents had been very vocal about the misuse of water.

“The residents realise the seriousness of the water restrictions and that we all must work together to save water. There are a lot of senior citizens who did not even apply for exemption for having to use buckets to water their gardens in my ward,” she said.

Ward 105 councillor Ruan Beneke, said residents in his ward had become more vigilant and were reporting leaks and wastage.

“They also need to report any wastage or non-compliance to the relevant numbers.”

Ward 105 includes Cape Farms, Vierlanden, Proteaville, Vissershok, Fisantekraal and Clara Anna Fontein.

Ms Limberg said water pressure might be reduced to limit water leaks and the low dam levels could cause slight changes in water taste and clarity.

Visit the City’s water restrictions page at www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater or email water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za for queries or to report transgressors.