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Tuesday Oct 06, 2020

Cape water abundant, but high prices stay

Calls for water tariffs to be lowered have grown louder with Cape Town dams full for the first time since 2014.

The Theewaterskloof Dam, the biggest in the province, with a capacity of 480 406 000m³ covering a surface area of 5 059 hectares, is overflowing.

"The City is very happy to announce that dams from which we take our water supply have filled to the 100% mark. Full dams, however, raise obvious questions around whether tariffs will be eased. In response, the City can say consultations around appropriate tariffs and restrictions for the 2020/21 hydrological year (which runs from November 1 to October 31) are currently taking place," Mayco member for Water and Waste Xanthea Limberg said.

Civic organisation Stop CoCT said the City changed the name of the pricing from level 3 to level 1, but were still charging the same high prices for water.

Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said: "Aligned with a financial budget year the City changed the water restrictions and water tariffs from level 3 to level 1 by a simple name change. In effect we still have level 3 water tariffs – just another name for it.

"There are still many water meters restricting households to 350 litres per day as the City has a backlog to reset the meters to free flow. At the same time the City complains that they are selling 30% less water. The City says this against the backdrop of having removed the 6kl free water for non-indigent users and raising the 0-6kl block from being free to almost
We are very unhappy because this is inhumane Cosatu Trade union federation R20 per kilolitre. Many households with larger than four people are battling to pay their accounts when their water usage exceeds 6kl in a month."

The organisation said the City should immediately reinstate the 6kl free water for all households and scrap the water levy.
Meanwhile, trade union Cosatu said the tariff charges were inhumane.

"It is quite clear that this City does not care about the people who are suffering. We are very unhappy because this is inhumane… people cannot live without water. Now the City is exploiting that need by charging high tariffs," said provincial secretary-general Melvern de Bruyn.

"We have received complaints from old people who are being threatened with having the water turned off because they are struggling to keep up with the monthly bills so they go into arrears."

Cosatu will organise a motorcade on Wednesday to hand over a memorandum to authorities highlighting water, among other issues. "Following their feedback we will plan our next move. If push comes to shove we will march or protest," De Bruyn said.

Cape Times5 Oct 2020NICOLA DANIELS


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