Level 3 water tariffs to bite in December

The City has urged residents to save water.

While the City of Cape Town recently implemented Level 3 water restrictions, the tariffs will only come into effect from tomorrow, Thursday December 1 and Ernest Sonnenberg, the City’s mayoral committee member for utility services, has urged residents and businesses to conserve water due to the dam storage levels.

Level 3 means 30 percent water savings and is applicable when dam levels are critically low.

Mr Sonnenberg said a key area where water restrictions had been intensified compared to Level 2 was that watering was only allowed with a bucket or watering can.

Residents are therefore not allowed to use hosepipes or irrigation systems, and cars and boats should be washed only from buckets. He said swimming pools were required to be fitted with a pool cover to prevent evaporation and no portable play pools were to be used.

According to the City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Water Supply System (WCWSS) Reconciliation Strategy Steering Committee, last year recommended that the Voëlvlei Augmentation Scheme Phase 1 be implemented as the next scheme to supply additional water to the WCWSS.

This would involve building a scheme to pump excess winter water from the Berg River into Voëlvlei Dam. Beyond this, water supply schemes such as surface water augmentation schemes, expansion of groundwater use, reuse of wastewater effluents, and desalination were planned over a 20- to 30-year period.

Mr Sonnenberg said fines would be enforced from December to allow residents time to adjust to the new restrictions. Contraventions could result in a spot fine of up to R3 000, escalating up to R10 000 on conviction, or possible jail time for serious and repeat offenders.

Antonio Meyer, the owner of Tony’s Hair Salon in the Town Centre, said the use of water was central to their business. “We use water to wash and rinse hair. This is an important part of the business because we specialise in hair care. The water restrictions will affect the business, so now we have to find smarter ways of using water,” he said. His wife, Jo-anne said: “Without water we are without business. We also use water to wash the items, so what we do is we take the towels home and wash them in a batch together. Also if you use good shampoo, you don’t have to wash a head twice. With the cheaper shampoo you have to do it twice and that wastes water.”

Mr Meyer also runs a community garden in Tafelsig, called Everest Park. He said due to the water restrictions, the grass had gone brown.

“What can we do? We have put so much effort into the garden. Personally I have spent R1 000, without the help of the City. I hope that the restrictions will be for everyone, and that it will be effective,” he said.

Mr Sonnenberg added that the start of the hot summer months generally start with a spike in water use as residents fill up their pools and use more water in their gardens.

“If we are to meet our targets, residents will need to cut these activities back to winter levels, or intensify their efforts to save in other areas to keep their consumption in line with how much they used during winter,” he said.

Mr Sonnenberg said about 70 percent of water in Cape Town was used by residential customers, and as such these consumers will have the biggest influence on how secure our future water supplies are.