Jail time, hefty fines for repeat water wasters, warns city

2017-06-05 19:25
An empty Theewaterskloof Dam, which supplies Cape Town with more than half of its water. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

An empty Theewaterskloof Dam, which supplies Cape Town with more than half of its water. (Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp)

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Cape Town - The city on Monday warned that repeat water wasters could face jail time, as well as stiff fines, as it strengthens its efforts to ensure water is saved.

"We have negotiated that the maximum spot fine for a contravention of the city’s water restrictions be raised to R5 000, rising to R10 000 or even a prison sentence for serious or repeat offences, and we are lobbying the courts to provide for more intensive deterrents as our situation worsens," the city said in a statement.

"Those who are fined will be named and shamed."

Dam storage levels were at 19.6%, but because the last 10% was mostly not useable, it meant levels effectively stood at 9.6%.

Consumption stood at 648 million litres a day, 48 million litres above target.

"While there is some rain predicted for this week, we need continuous rainfall over many weeks for our dam levels to reach sufficient levels," the city statement said.

“The City of Cape Town therefore appeals to residents and businesses to keep up water-saving measures and not to relax their efforts."

Level 4 water restrictions came into effect at the start of June, meaning the outdoor use of drinking water had been banned.

But the city said this was not enough.

"This on its own will not result in us meeting consumption targets. To meet our savings goals, we need every resident to limit their water use to no more than 100 litres per day," the statement said.

"Those who exceed this target do so at the expense of other residents... As such, the city has been doing its utmost to ensure that people are held accountable."

Under level 4 restrictions, fines could be issued for:

• Irrigation or watering with municipal drinking water

• Topping up private swimming pools, even if they have a cover

• Washing vehicles and boats with municipal water (commercial car washes may apply for an exemption which will only be granted if wash water is recycled or waterless products are used)

• Running a water feature

• Hosing down of paved surfaces with municipal drinking water

• Using a portable play pool

The city said 25 000 water demand management devices had been installed since July 2016.

This could limit water consumption in homes if necessary.

"The programme has been instrumental in extending available water supplies well into winter, and will continue to play a key role in increasing the city’s water resilience."

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, said ensuring each customer used less than 100 litres of water a day was impossible.

"I am therefore today calling on residents to take a more active role, either by reporting those who contravene the restrictions, or calling out their friends, colleagues and family members who are not behaving with 100 litres in mind," she said.

Contraventions should be reported to water@capetown.gov.za.

Evidence that may assist the city with the investigation should be attached.

Read more on:    xanthea limberg  |  cape town  |  drought  |  water crisis

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