Water meter woes

2016-05-10 06:00

A Lotus River resident found their water meter had been changed – without their permission – after it was cut off for an entire day.

And despite having his water supply reconnected, Wesley Manuel says he is not happy with the outcome of his complaint to the City of Cape Town.

“On Thursday 31 March our water supply was off for the entire day. When we got home from work we assumed it was the entire street that was affected and left it at first.”

He then enquired from his neighbours if their water supply was cut off as well, but when it was confirmed that their water supply was not affected, Manuel became suspicious. “My wife then phoned the call centre number and waited for about 45 minutes before someone picked up. The gentleman that spoke to her was not very helpful and being frustrated herself an altercation started on the telephone,” Manuel explains.

Manuel says his wife was not able to get the consultant’s name before the consultant hung up the phone. “She phoned again and this time waited 22 minutes (before someone answered). I took the handset over and discovered that the City had swopped our meter reader with a new water meter, without any consultation with us,” Manuel says.

He asked for this to be reversed, but was told he would have to complete “certain forms”. These were never named and Manuel is yet to receive an answer regarding the forms to have the action reversed.

He adds the consultant explained to him that the only time a water meter would be replaced was if it was faulty, if the owner was in arrears, at the customer’s request and if the device was old.

“Our water meter was never faulty, we were not in arrears, and we never asked for a new device. The water meter they replaced was also not faulty because it was fitted less than a year ago,” Manuel says.

Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, says the City has made contact with Manuel.

“The City has made contact with the complainant and we are working together to resolve this enquiry. The roll-out of water management devices (WMDs), which allow waterflow to the property to be managed based on what the customer can afford, forms part of the City’s strategy to secure water resources for the City.” 

The City is currently “replacing water meters that have reached the end of their lifespan, and are hence likely to malfunction, with WMDs”, Sonneberg says. “All new water meters installed throughout the city will be water management devices. In terms of applicable legislation the City is not required to obtain consent from residents when accessing or performing works on our infrastructure (the water meter).”

Manuel confirms the City contacted him to discuss the issue.

“They told me that they are doing a roll-out for the whole area but only targeted my home. I understand that they can replace their meters, however, it was an inconvenience to me and they should have consulted with me prior to replacing the unit,” Manuel says
Sonnenberg confirms Manuel’s water meter was replaced a few years ago with a conventional water meter.
“This meter, however, seized (was not recording water use) and had to be replaced. In line with the City’s policy to install only WMDs, an Aqualoc meter was fitted,” he says.
“Upon inspection of the property it was found that the meter, which is situated outside the property, had been disturbed, triggering an anti-tampering measure which automatically restricts water to the premises. It could have been a child or a prospective metal thief who did this,” Sonnenberg explains.

He says the anti-tamper device has now been reset and water supply restored to the property.

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