Water problems in Woodlands

Woodlands resident Michael Krige with his water bill, which stands at R3 585.

Woodlands resident Moira Krige says she has been trying to get the City of Cape Town to resolve her water woes for the past 13 years, telling the Plainsman her bill fluctuated every month, with her April water bill amounting to a staggering R3 585.04. The previous month it had been R104.31.

But the City says there are underground leaks on Ms Krige’s propery and it’s her responsibility to have them fixed.

Adding to Ms Krige’s concerns is that her water meter is not located in front of her Mitchell’s Avenue home, but in Wandel Crescent, which is two roads away. This was confirmed by the City’s mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, who said the meter could be moved – but at Ms Krige’s expense. “The meter is situated at the back of her property. The customer has been advised that her meter can be moved, but as per City policy this must be paid for by the customer. The customer is unwilling to pay for this,” he said.

Furthermore, said Ms Krige, her water supply was disconnected on June 8, and when she spoke to the Plainsman recently, it had not yet been reconnected.

And this is not the first time Ms Krige has turned to the Plainsman to vent her frustrations about her water bill. After she received an account for R16 000 in June 2013 we featured Ms Krige’s story in the paper(“Woodlands woman’s water bill woes”, Plainsman August 21 2013).

A frustrated Ms Krige told the Plainsman she and her husband had been in contact with the City, desperate for them to help sort out their problems with the water meter and their exhorbitant bills.

“This pattern has been prevalent for the last 13 years and I think at this stage I am sick and tired of being exploited, harassed and inhumanely treated by City planners not having done their job properly.

“They had the water meter ‘fixed’ but, it is still not running normally. So now, we are getting a bill 10 times the normal rate and are expected to pay the water bill,” said Ms Krige.

Mr Krige said he has lost hope and wants the City to take the matter seriously.

Mr Sonnenberg said the current arrears had been accumulated due to leaks on the private plumbing at the property. He confirmed that Ms Krige’s complaints were on record.

“As per the relevant legislation, these leaks on private property are the responsibility of the owner to fix, and we have informed the customer of this fact when the original complaint was submitted.

“Should she take required steps to correct the faults on her property, the City has advised that she can then apply for an underground leaks rebate as per the criteria specified in the tariff policy,” he said.

Regarding the bill, Mr Sonnenberg said the water consumption for the period in question was estimated as the City was unable to perform a meter reading.

He said estimates are worked out based on historic usage trends at the property.

“A subsequent reading at the property indicates usage that is lower than was estimated. The customer’s next account will reflect this reversal. This is internationally accepted practice,” he said.

Mr Sonnenberg said in terms of the total arrears, Ms Krige has been advised that she should take steps to fix the leaks on her property’s plumbing and apply for the City’s underground leaks rebate.