Clarity on utility bill demanded

2019-05-14 06:01

An elderly woman from Kensington is pleading with the City of Cape Town to explain the high water bill she received from the municipality.

Maureen Swartz’s (83) account, registered under her late husband’s name, has accumulated over R3 000 in arrears and she has no idea how she could have used so much water that could have added up to that amount.

Speaking to People’s Post last week, she explained that the problem started after a new Blue Meter was installed at her residence.

“Soon after that, my water bill started going up and that was confusing because I live with my two children and we do not use that much water,” Swartz said.

She then logged a complaint with the City to investigate the matter and an inspector was apparently sent to investigate.

“The inspector that came to the house said that meter was running constantly even though we were not using water at night.”

Swartz further said that no leaks were found on the pipes, which made her wonder what could have caused the meter to run.

When the inspector apparently told her that the amount will be scrapped, she was relieved that she would not have to pay the high amount.

“Almost a year later, the amount in arrears is still there and has not been scrapped, I have tried everything but have not gotten any help.”

She expressed that she would like the City to explain to her the reason why her water bill is so high.

She said: “I live on my social grant and paying almost R800 every month is taking a toll on my pocket.

“I would like the City to tell me what caused the bill to be so high and how I can resolve it.”

Mayco member for water and waste Xanthea Limberg said Swartz’s account showed consumption levels at the property have remained stable for some time.

“Tariffs were, however, increased during the drought, so if residents did not reduce their consumption during this time their bill would escalate, in some cases drastically,” she said.

She further encouraged Swartz to find out whether she qualifies for indigent status.

“All residents living on properties valued at less than R400 000 or all households earning less than R4000 a month can qualify for 10 500 litres of free water a month.”

“Furthermore, if residents are struggling to pay their accounts, but do not qualify for indigent status, the City can work out a payment plan that is affordable for them based on household income.”

In such instances of uncertainty on water bills, Limberg said residents need to check for leaks, and if no leaks are found, the next option will be for the residents to apply to have their meter tested.

“If it is confirmed to be faulty the account will be adjusted appropriately.

There is a fee for testing the meter, which covers the cost of removing the meter and running the test, but if the meter is confirmed to be faulty the test fee will be credited on the account,” she said.

She further said that if the meter is confirmed to be faulty, the City will analyse historic consumption patterns at the property and adjust the account appropriately.

If the meter is not faulty, the account will not be adjusted and the test fee will not be credited.

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