Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Letters -

This wa­ter cri­sis is the fault of the gov­ern­ment of the Western Cape; they have al­lowed development to go for­ward un­hin­dered with­out thought to the in­fra­struc­ture. Now they are try­ing to do some­thing for the roads.

We are liv­ing in a pe­riod of cli­matic up­heaval brought about by in­dus­trial pol­lu­tion. What we are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing isn’t a drought! It is cli­mate change, a change in the weather pat­terns. The gov­ern­ment uses the term drought to try to hide or mask the prob­lem as be­ing nat­u­ral and out of their con­trol. In fact, this is a lie.

Years ago, the gov­ern­ment of the Western Cape should have called a halt to fur­ther res­i­den­tial development, to de­vel­op­ing new ur­ban ar­eas. This mora­to­rium should have been in place un­til such time as the in­fra­struc­ture had been im­proved to take in- creased pop­u­la­tion lev­els. But this was un­pop­u­lar. It was far eas­ier to al­low development and building to con­tinue, in­creas­ing the pres­sure on an al­ready scarce re­source, us­ing mil­lions of litres daily mix­ing ce­ment be­cause more houses means in­creased tax rev­enue.

This tax that the gov­ern­ment wishes to im­pose is un­fair; we have cut wa­ter con­sump­tion as per their re­quest and now we are ex­pected to be taxed for it be­cause they did not do the right thing a decade ago. Fur­ther­more, this tax goes across the board, and does not dis­tin­guish be­tween house­holds with one mem­ber and house­holds with more than one; thus house­holds with fewer mem­bers will be pay­ing sub­stan­tially more.

If the gov­ern­ment of the Western Cape would like to fund projects to en­sure wa­ter avail­abil­ity, then they should in­crease the wa­ter tar­iffs in a step- wise fash­ion so con­sumers who use more are charged at sub­stan­tially higher rates. They should use some of the in­creased rev­enue ob­tained from rates on new ur­ban devel­op­ments to fund new wa­ter sup­plies, and they should go af­ter those that have ma­te­ri­ally ben­e­fited from these new ur­ban devel­op­ments, the builders and prop­erty and real es­tate de­vel­op­ers and have them pay a spe­cial in­fra­struc­ture tax.

And the gov­ern­ment should re­ward those who strive to use less wa­ter by low­er­ing their rates and taxes.


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