Further water saving on the cards

2015-12-15 06:00

Further water restrictions have been approved at the City of Cape Town’s final council meeting of the year last week. The committee approved the step up to level two water restrictions.

This follows an amendment to cases pertaining to alternative water source users. The amendment states that watering gardens, parks and open spaces with alternative water sources (like harvested rain water, grey water, treated effluent water, well points and boreholes) may take place only before 09:00 and after 18:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The implementation of level two restrictions was in response to residents who complained about the stringent measures being applied to those who have already taken steps to use alternative water sources in the interest of reducing their consumption.

As Cape Town is situated in a water-scarce region, the City imposes level one restrictions (10% water savings) at all times.

Because dam levels are lower than the norm for this time of year, the City will now implement level two restrictions (20% savings).

“Residents should note that from 1 January they will be charged according to a tariff designed to be revenue-neutral when applied to the 20% reduced consumption levels. In other words, if the customer reduces their consumption by 20%, their bill should remain at a similar rand value. Indigent customers’ free allocation will not be affected, nor will the free first 6kF a month for all residents.

“For example, if a resident normally uses 24 kF of water every month and he reduces consumption by 20%, he will continue to receive a bill for a similar amount,” says Ernest Sonnenberg, mayoral committee member for utility services.

What to doWith level two restrictions, residents will also have to abide by the following, more stringent regulations:

. Watering (eg. using buckets) of a garden, sports field or other grassed area using potable water (drinking water from a tap) only before 09:00 and after 18:00.

. No watering (eg. using buckets) will be permitted within 24 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Facilities and residents making use of boreholes or other alternative water sources are not exempt from this.

. Irrigation (with hosepipes or sprinklers) may only take place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during approved hours and for no longer than an hour in total. Facilities and residents making use of boreholes or other alternative water sources are not exempt.

. If alternative water sources are used, residents who do so should ensure that they display signage to this effect clearly visible for the public. Users of alternative water sources must be registered with the City in order to do so.

. Where a hosepipe is used for irrigation, it must have a controlling device attached at the end.

. No washing or hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas may take place with potable water.

. A hosepipe used for washing cars must be fitted with an automatic self-closing device.

. Automatic top-up systems for swimming pools and garden ponds are not allowed. Furthermore, the use of a pool cover is recommended.

. Car-wash businesses must comply with industry best practice norms. Informal car washes must use buckets rather than hosepipes.

. Wash basins in public facilities must be fitted with demand-type taps.

. Showers provided at public facilities must be fitted with demand-type valves.

. Potable water may not be used to dampen sand or other building material to prevent these materials from being blown away.

. Standpipe draw-off taps must be of a height of at least 450mm, measured above ground level.

. The maximum flow rate from any tap installed at a hand basin may not exceed 6F per minute.

. The maximum flow rate of any showerhead may not exceed 10F per minute.

. Toilet cisterns may not exceed 9.5F in capacity.

. Automatic flushing cisterns or tipping tanks shall not be used for flushing a urinal.

. All automatic flushing cisterns fitted to urinals must be replaced with manually operated systems, or non-manual apparatus that only flushes after each use.

. Terminal water fittings (taps and outlets) installed outside any buildings, other than residential buildings, must incorporate a self-closing device or have a removable handle for operating purposes or be capable of being locked to prevent unauthorised use or be of a demand type that limits water use for each operation.

. Water audits must be undertaken annually by major water users (those who use more than 10 000kF a month), but this excludes if these are multiple dwelling units.

. No person may allow water, used as a heat-exchange medium in any equipment or plant and supplied from a water installation, to run continuously to waste, except for maintaining a prescribed level of total dissolved solids in a recirculating plant.

. Ornamental water features may only be operated if the water is recycled.

In addition, the City would like to inform residents that changes to the bulk water distribution system could intermittently impact on water pressure, clarity or taste in some areas of the northern and central suburbs of the city.

These changes became necessary due to the low level of the Voëlvlei dam.

Funny waterResultant flow changes in some of the water pipelines may temporarily cause cloudiness or a slight discolouration in the water. Residents with sensitive palates may also notice a slight change in the taste of their water as it will now be coming from a different mix of sources.

“Water consumers in several parts of the city may have also experienced an earthy taste and odour to their drinking water caused by low levels of geosmin in dam waters. We would like to reassure residents that this is a naturally occurring compound and is neither toxic nor harmful to health.

“Water quality is monitored continuously and all water supplied will be entirely safe for human consumption,” Sonneberg says.

He adds that the City is working proactively to manage available water resources and reduce the effects of geosmin in the water sources – concentrations of which are anticipated to increase with lower dam levels and hot, windy conditions.

“The City would like to remind residents that these are not punitive measures, but rather the City taking the necessary steps to protect our water supplies and guard against finding ourselves in full-blown crisis, as has been the case in other municipalities,” Sonnenberg says.

V Residents who wish to apply for an exemption can apply to the City’s director of water services by emailing water.restrictions@capetown.gov.za.

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