10 September 2017

South Africa: Cape Town Tightens Water Restrictions

The City of Cape Town is taking a number of stringent actions to drive down water consumption, including level 5 restrictions and a further increase in pressure management.

The upper limit of 87 litres per person and the overall target of 500 million litres per day of collective consumptions remain in place. However, there is now a new emphasis on capping excessive water use at the domestic household level and placing additional restrictions on the commercial sector.

Measures to drive down consumption to 500 million litres of water per day are supplemented by other measures to augment the supply of water from non-surface water options by up to 500 million litres of water per day, which are currently underway.

Together these actions form part of the approach to building water resilience over the short- to medium-term.

Since 1 July, the city's goal has been to reduce consumption to 500 million litres per day. As of last week, consumption stood at 599 million litres per day.

"With the winter rainfall season likely to end in the next three to four weeks, we simply have to get used to using less water as we enter the summer season," the City of Cape Town said in a statement.

Over the last year, all categories of water users have shown a trend of decreased consumption other than the commercial property category.

This category includes offices and small business operations. It excludes industrial properties which form part of a separate category, and which have displayed a welcome significant drop in water consumption over the past year.

"The managers of commercial properties must with immediate effect ensure that their monthly consumption of the municipal supply of water is reduced by 20% compared with a year ago.

"The City acknowledges that there are some commercial properties that have made great strides to reduce consumption of municipal water, and therefore the historical usage of individual commercial properties and their efforts to install improved water management technologies will be taken into account when considering any enforcement measures against the owners of commercial properties in the future," the City said.

The City has carefully considered this latest measure, which is in line with adapting to the new normal as a water-scare region.

This measure is not intended to negatively impact business operations, but is to ensure sustainability of the commercial sector by bringing about the necessary behavioural changes and mind-set to adapt to the New Normal.

Commercial water users can reduce their consumption by installing water-efficient plumbing fittings and water-saving devices.

"We are appealing to businesses to promote water-saving habits among staff and facility managers," the City said.

With regard to domestic properties, the 87-litre per person limit remains in place. However, the cap on individual domestic property usage is now set at 20 kl per month, beyond which the property owner will be subject to a very high fine.

An engagement with the Chief Magistrate is forthcoming, but the fines are expected to be in the region of R5 000 to R10 000. Confirmation of fines will be announced shortly.

All users, whether in the domestic or commercial sector, are required to remain vigilant with regard to water use and, if curtailment of consumption is required, then they are to begin doing so immediately.

The usage in the month of September will determine what actions delinquent users will be subject to thereafter.

Where non-compliance occurs, users can be subject to an admission of guilt fine or, in accordance with Section 36(4) of the City's Water By-law, the installation of a water management device (the cost of which will be billed to the account holder). Installation of these devices in the households of the most excessive users commenced three weeks ago and will be ramped up in the coming weeks.

The City has made considerable strides with regard to lowering water pressure over the last three months, which has contributed to reducing overall consumption of municipal water. There is, however, room for further measures to reduce water pressure, which will commence immediately.

Further pressure reduction is likely to result in supply interruptions being experienced in higher-lying areas of the city's supply zones for short periods during the day.

Multi-storey buildings that do not make use of pumps and overhead tanks as required by the City's building regulations are likely to experience supply problems.

Residents are encouraged to approach their body corporates or managing agents to ensure that these systems are in place and operational.

Residents are advised to keep an emergency store of between 2 - 5 litres of water for drinking and basic hygiene at all times.

For information on how to meet the 87-litre per day usage requirement, residents should please visit the water restrictions page on the City's website: www.capetown.gov.za/thinkwater and utilise our water calculator: http://bit.ly/ThinkWaterCalculatorCT

Residents can contact the City via email to water@capetown.gov.za for queries about the water pressure reduction, or to report contraventions of the water restrictions (evidence should be provided to assist the City's enforcement efforts), or they can send an SMS to 31373.

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