Eastridge families dispute water bill

A water meter.

Two Eastridge families are forking out huge amounts to cover their municipal bills.

The bill of pensioners Basil Cameron and his wife, Anna, has more than doubled within the past month.

The Camerons, who had a new water meter installed last February, were shocked when their municipal bill showed that R526.88 had to be paid last Friday, June 29.

The five-page bill reflects usage for two water meters.

Their bill, due on March 5, was R62.21, but it has been on the incline since. The bill due on July 7 showed a balance owing of R180.58.

“It is just me, my wife and our three dogs on the property. Since the water restrictions, we have been reusing and saving water even more,” said Mr Cameron.

Last February, before the new water meter was installed, the Camerons had been faced with a bill of R11 451.24 but this was sorted out by lawyers.

The old water meter, said Mr Cameron, had been situated outside of their property for 32 years and was subseuently replaced.

“We didn’t break that meter, it was defected. It was their responsibility to fix it,” he said.

A private plumber told the Camerons that the stopcock in their drain had a major leak but a municipal inspector found no leaks (“Eastridge couple puzzled over water bill,” Plainsman, February 22 2017).

At the time, Eddie Andrews, mayoral committee member for area south, said leaks on private property were the responsibility of the property owner and explained that Mr Cameron had to cover the costs of having the meter tested.

Following a Plainsman enquiry sent to the City of Cape Town Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste Services; and energy, said their system was updated to reflect the consumption on the old meter and on the new meter.

“The invoice is reflecting the last reading on the old meter and the first reading on the new meter,” she said.

Also disputing her bill for municipal services is Delores Adams of Eastridge.

Usually her municipal bill is less than R500, but on April 3, R1 200.99 was due.

Ms Adams also disputed the spike in their sewerage costs from R189.37 due on March 5 to R485.90 due on July 6.

Shesaidtheirhousehold income was less than R4 000, more than a quarter of which was being used to pay for municipal services — and they adhered strictly to water saving measures, Ms Adams added.

“We use our grey water to flush; we follow the if it is yellow let it mellow, flush brown rule, and we bath in buckets of water.

“Also, we are hardly home to use the said amount of water,” she said.

Ms Limberg said the Adams’s bill reflected the price difference due to Level 6 restriction tariffs introduced during February.

“Analysis of the readings indicates that the reading was estimated. We have requested the actual reading and that residents should note, however, that the estimate is based on the previous consumption levels at the property,” she said.

Ms Limberg said the sewage bill was linked to the water bill.

“Sewage charges are calculated as 70% of water charges up to a maximum of 35 kilolitres,” she said.

All of the Adams’s bills were estimated, which showed on the City’s system that the meter at the property had been vandalised.

Ms Limberg said they had requested that staff follow up on that report.

The account would be updated once the meter had been replaced.

Ms Limberg said the municipality and the national Department of Water and Sanitation were monitoring rainfall and dam levels and would ease restrictions as soon as it was possible to do so without putting the City at risk.

Ms Limberg said if residents were struggling to pay their bills, they could apply to the City to have family member numbers adjusted to account for more than four people living on the premises.

Residentscanaccesstherelevantformstoapplyforan increased allocation on the City’s website, and then hand these in at any of the City’s walk-in centres or follow the online submission guidelines on the City’s website.

They should take their proof of income and make a payment arrangement based on their household income at their closest walk-in centre.

Ms Limberg said as long as they stuck to this payment arrangement, the City would suspend debt action against the account.

Residents can also query their bills at their closest walk-in centre or email accounts@capetown.gov.za