RESIDENTS are reminded that the price of water increases steeply from this week. An urgent call has also gone out to all consumers to cut back water usage by 25%.Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen said the implementation of the higher charges - Part C of the municipality’s tariff structure – was approved by Council at the end of May. The Council also declared a local state of disaster at the same meeting because of the prolonged drought and looming water shortages.Water restrictions and Part B (critical but not emergency) water tariffs have been in place in Kouga municipal since December 2016. Van Lingen said Kouga had further been instructed by the national Department of Water and Sanitation to cut back its water consumption by 25% because dam levels had reached critical levels.“If good rains don’t fall in the catchment areas soon, we are heading for a disaster that will have far-reaching negative implications for the region as a whole,” she said.“We call on all residents and business to save water urgently. Every drop counts.” She said an emergency action plan, aimed at conserving and increasing the water supply, would be tabled to Council in August. “Emergency measures will include increasing consumer education and the sinking of additional boreholes, the recycling of waste water and the construction of a desalination plant. “With the disaster declaration having been gazetted, we are now also in a position to apply for funding assistance from provincial and national government to implement the emergency measures.”The implementation of emergency tariffs and call for water consumption to be reduced by at least 25% are also in effect in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. Kouga purchases most of its water for domestic use from the Metro, which manages the dams on behalf of the Department of Water and Sanitation.