Water restored after 10-month trickle

Elaine Parsons and her family, from Beacon Valley, were without flowing water for 10 months.

A Beacon Valley family had to buy, ask neighbours or wait hours for basins to fill with water – for 10 months.

Elaine Parsons said it took nearly four hours to fill a bath or washing machine after their water was restricted to a trickle in April last year.

The full flow was restored on Friday January 26 hours after the Plainsman spoke to ward councillor Solomon Philander and sent an email to the City of Cape Town.

“It is terrible. We had to wash in one bath, ask the neighbours for water and my feet are sore from walking to the rent office, only to have my water not switched on,” she said.

Ms Parsons lives with her husband, their three children, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.

She had a private plumber check for leaks but found none.

“I’ve been under a lot of undue stress. I am a chronic patient and need water to cook and drink,” she said.

Mayoral committee member for water and sanitation Zahid Badroodien said the water supply was restricted due to excessive usage, in terms of the water and sanitation tariff policy.

He said Ms Parsons reported a leak and an inspection was done in May but no leak was found and no repairs were done.

“The customer’s water was never disconnected, however, it was restricted allowing for the basic supply of six kilolitres water per month,” he said.

Even though a high consumption was registered, the household was not charged as they were deemed “indigent“ until June 30 last year.

“When an account is billed on indigent rates, the customer receives free water at 15 kilolitres per month. If more than 15 kilolitres are consumed, we, unfortunately, need to restrict and the customer needs to approach the City if they require additional allocation based on the merit of their household,” he said.

The household was deemed indigent based on the municipal property valuation from 2017. Last year, when the value increased to a different bracket, the tariff automatically changed to “domestic full”.

Prior to this the household had been accumulating arrears since 2008, the City said, and restrictions were implemented in 2009. The family were also sent a warning letter to reduce their consumption.

Ms Parson however told the Plainsman that her bill was not in arrears.

Mayco member for finance Siseko Mbandezi said residents can apply for compensation with the City’s insurance from their website. Each claim is assessed on its own merit, which includes assessment of whether there was any negligence or omission on the City’s side.