Calls to scrap drought levy

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BULELWA PAYI

WHILE Cape Town res­i­dents have re­ceived some re­lief on wa­ter re­stric­tions, a lobby group has called for the drought levy to be scrapped.

Stop CoCT’s San­dra Dick­son be­lieves while the re­laxed wa­ter re­stric­tions have brought re­lief to ratepay­ers, the drought levy should be scrapped and the high tar­iffs ad­dressed.

Dick­son said while on the sur­face it ap­peared that ratepay­ers might save costs, some might find them­selves pay­ing more.

“On a rough cal­cu­la­tion, if some­one un­der the Level 5 re­stric­tions used about 8.5kilo­litres a month they would have paid around R240, but now un­der Level 3, if they use an ex­tra 4 kilo­litres they will pay R20 ex­tra. The amount might seem in­signif­i­cant but if they keep con­sum­ing more, that will add up to a high amount. Our main goal should be to con­tinue sav­ing wa­ter and us­ing less,” said Dick­son.

The city’s wa­ter sup­ply from the dams is shared be­tween ratepay­ers and the agri­cul­tural sec­tor and it is ex­pected that it will share its full quota be­tween now and April.

“The dams are not big enough to sup­ply ev­ery­one,” Dick­son said.

“We need to en­sure we have enough wa­ter un­til the next win­ter rain­fall. It’s con­cern­ing that the aug­men­ta­tion sup­ply from the de­sali­na­tion plants has dropped as well. This raises the ques­tion: is it sus­tain­able and re­li­able?”

Yes­ter­day Level 3 wa­ter re­stric­tions be­gan, al­low­ing res­i­dents to use up to 105 litres a per­son a day and to save about 35% in costs if less than 6 000 litres of wa­ter is used in a month.

Col­lec­tively, res­i­dents have to use no more than 650mil­lion litres a day, up from Level 5’s 500mil­lion.

Ex­perts have cau­tioned against ex­ces­sive con­sump­tion as the city still needs to save wa­ter.

Dr Willem de Clercq of the Wa­ter In­sti­tute at Stel­len­bosch Uni­ver­sity, has at­trib­uted the de­ci­sion to ad­just the wa­ter re­stric­tions as an “eco­nomic” move. He said the City of Cape Town’s in­come from wa­ter had come down con­sid­er­ably as many res­i­dents had de­cided to use less when Level 6 re­stric­tions and tar­iffs were in place.

“The city now needs to sell more wa­ter to re­cover the losses. Those who will fill up swim­ming pools or over-use wa­ter will pay heav­ily,” De Clercq said.

How­ever, he cau­tioned against falling back on high wa­ter con­sump­tion which led to the threats of Day Zero and stiff wa­ter re­stric­tions.

Mayor Dan Plato also urged res­i­dents to con­tinue be­ing “wa­ter­wise”.

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