Councils oppose drought levy

2016-09-16 09:24
Witness reporter, Nompilo Kunene, cautiously pours herself a glass of water following news of the drought levy imposed for bulk potable water by Umgeni Water.

Witness reporter, Nompilo Kunene, cautiously pours herself a glass of water following news of the drought levy imposed for bulk potable water by Umgeni Water. (Ian Carbutt)

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KwaZulu-Natal’s two biggest municipalities have sent letters to Umgeni Water, opposing the drought levy implemented from the beginning of this month. The water authority confirmed this week that a drought levy was being imposed on municipalities it supplies with water, from September 1.

The levy has been introduced because the drought has forced Umgeni Water to supply less water to municipalities as it tries to maintain the level of dams.

However, the reduced production also means that Umgeni Water is earning less money.

The levy is intended to make up for the utility’s loss of revenue.

Umgeni Water on Thurday confirmed that correspondence had been received from the Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities, although the water provider would not divulge the content of the letters.

The municipalities also declined to reveal the contents of their letters, while the issue was still being discussed.

Umgeni Water spokesperson Shami Harichunder said the views and comments made by the municipalities would be discussed at internal forums before responding “as soon as practically possible”.

But a source revealed that Msunduzi Municipality was “not very happy” with the drought levy being imposed.

Harichunder said they had taken a “proactive stance” to manage the effects of reduced sales volumes as a result of the drought, and therefore “a prudent cash flow management strategy” had been adopted.

Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the Department of Water Affairs, said the levy for bulk potable water was approved by Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane in July.

Harichunder said consultation regarding the drought levy was done with all six municipalities they service.

The consultation was done during Umgeni Water’s Bulk Potable Water Tariff presentation held in Durban in November last year. Ratau confirmed that Mokonyane was informed that consultations were done prior to signing off on the levy. The levy for Msunduzi, which has had a 15% water restriction implemented since the drought was gazetted, is set at 95c more per kilolitre received.

Other municipalities that have had five percent, 10%, 20% and 30% restrictions would pay 35c, 64c, R1,31 and R1,84 extra per kilolitre respectively.

Msunduzi residents have already been charged 8,2% more for water this year, by the municipality.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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